What's Next? Looking Ahead at Stockton's Next 50 Years

ac phase 2 housing rendering

Above: A rendering of the Atlantic City Phase 2 student housing scheduled to open in fall 2023. Below, renderings of the Multicultural Center, and proposed Field House and Pavilion and Atlantic City Academic Center Expansion

Galloway, N.J. – Could a medical school and law school be in Stockton’s future?

Don’t count them out, says President Harvey Kesselman, who has been at Stockton its entire first 50 years, entering as a member of the first class in 1971.

“Look how far we’ve come in our first 50 years,” Kesselman said. “We have a hospital on our Galloway campus (AtlantiCare).  In the future, I would hope to see a medical school here in Galloway and a law school in Atlantic City, even if I won’t be president then.”

In its first 50 years, Stockton has grown from 1,000 undergraduate students meeting in an old hotel in Atlantic City to almost 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students studying on two campuses in Galloway and Atlantic City and instructional sites in Manahawkin, Hammonton and Woodbine.

multicultural centerBut what might the university look like over the next 50 years?  A lot will depend on money, admissions, and the needs of students and the South Jersey and New Jersey workforce.

In the near future, a new residential complex will open in Atlantic City in fall 2023, housing an additional 400 students, who join the 540 already housed on the Boardwalk. The new multicultural center in Galloway will open for the 2022-23 academic year, offering programs and a gathering space that embraces the growing diversity of the campus community.

Final plans for an expansion to the Sports Center are almost complete. That is expected to be the next significant new construction to be approved and started this year, said Senior Vice President for Facilities and Operations Don Hudson.  

field-house-renderingHudson and Kesselman would also like to see a Field House and other improvements on the North Campus in Galloway.  “That would be a wonderful project for the future of the university,” Hudson said.  

In between there will be a lot of maintenance on the existing buildings – some of which are now 50 years old.  The HVAC system in Ewing and renovations to the library and Student Affairs are planned. The buildings of Housing I, the first student housing at Stockton, may be replaced. 

The Stockton Facilities Master Plan, updated in 2020, includes all of the above, plus a fourth building that would complete the Academic Quad across from the Campus Center.

“We’ll have to see when we need the fourth building, and we will need to get the funding, both state and private donors,” Kesselman said.   He would like to see Stockton’s enrollment grow to 15,000, with about 10,000 taking classes on the Galloway campus and 5,000 in Atlantic City. 

ac academic-expansion“We are the only four-year state college in the southeastern part of the state, and our enrollment and academic programs should continue to support our unique locations,” Kesselman said.

That includes the traditional environmental and coastal research programs, but also new areas like esports and cannabis studies, where Stockton has already taken the lead with a minor in cannabis studies and nationally recognized esports teams.

“Part of our reason to grow is that we do cover so much area in the state,” Kesselman said. “We have our strengths, like the sciences and health care, but we also have our liberal arts mission, and we shouldn’t lose that. I was grounded in liberal arts when I was here, and I wouldn’t be president without the skills one gains by studying them.”

In Atlantic City, Kesselman hopes to see construction on the empty lot across from the Residential Complex currently used for parking. He wants Stockton to be involved with more performing arts and culture in the city.  An addition to the Academic Center is in the Master Plan.  Down the road a bit there might still be some possibilities with the currently closed Atlantic Club property.

Whether it’s housing, academic space, new programs or even a parking garage, every decision will be grounded in what is needed to serve students.  That may include repurposing existing spaces on campus and searching out more private partners.

“If we can figure out how to use space we have, we may not have to build new buildings,” said Kesselman.  Stockton’s 1,600-acre campus in the Pinelands National Reserve is huge but limited in actual approved building space to some 400 acres.

Hudson noted that all projects are decided after input from the Board of Trustees, the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the Cabinet, and other specialized campus committees made up of faculty staff and students.

“They all contribute to the prioritization of projects, though the priority is mostly based on available funding sources,” Hudson said.

- Story by Diane D'Amico

What do others hope for the future of Stockton?   Here’s what members of the Stockton community shared:

“Over the next 50 years I hope Stockton continues to be a place of solace for those seeking strong academics, safe space, and caring community.”
 – Marissa Levy, Dean School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

“(I would hope) that Stockton would become known as the most racially, ethnically and culturally diverse university in the State of New Jersey's higher education system.”
- Patricia Reid-Merritt, Distinguished Professor, Africana Studies and Social Work

“In envisioning Stockton’s future, I speak in two roles: As the Faculty Senate President, I look forward to the university’s continued commitment to strengthening shared governance, open communication, transparency that imbibes greater participation of faculty in critical decision-making that impacts the University and its various constituents.

As a Stockton community member, I envision the university, as an anchor institution to continue playing a critical role in the growth of Atlantic City, and our surrounding communities. Recognized as a national university now, I like to see our academic programing offerings to further diversify by developing a law school, medical school, and a college of engineering in the future with a focus on diversifying the campus community and continued commitment to social justice. Stockton’s safe, secure, and unique location(s), growing infrastructure enables us to create an ecosystem that can also attract students globally, a focused footprint in international education offers a unique ability to put us on a global map, with a motto: ‘Come South, Go North’ as we usher into next fifty years.”
Manish Madan, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Faculty Senate President.

“I’m currently envisioning a university that has been built on progress, success, and student-first-driven thinking continuing to demonstrate those values through valuable student, staff, and faculty engagement. I hope to see the Stockton University community continue to grow, not only through the Atlantic City campus or new Multicultural Center but also through new programs and initiatives that meet students where they are at and prepare them for success and innovation any and everywhere. I also hope to see the 100th anniversary of Stockton (I should be about 70 years old then) and get to celebrate it in pandemic-less times. I have no doubt that the celebration will rival this year’s- maybe an expansion of the mural? Either way, I can’t wait to see the next generation of leaders and scholars coming out of Stockton and leading the world into a new era like the students of yesterday have done. “
- Loukaia Taylor, Engelberg Scholar, Class of 2022.

“In the next 50 years, I hope Stockton can expand even more than they already have been and enhance their study abroad capacities by having an actual campus in another country. If anyone can break ground in other countries, it’s Stockton! “
 -  Laurie Melchionne, Class of 2022, Editor, The Argo

“In the next 50 years, I wish for Stockton to always be a place where we look forward to whatever changes the day will bring, knowing that our colleagues are friendly, warm, and supportive, changing right alongside us so we’re all working together for students to benefit from the very best of what we have to offer.”
- Claudine Keenan, Dean, School of Education

“I would hope that the university continue to serve as both a nurturing and challenging forum for students where freedom of expression abounds and where opposing views, including those one does not espouse, are heard in order that we serve, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, as the “true marketplace of ideas.”
- Audrey LaTourette, Distinguished Professor of Business Law

“As a Professor of Physical Therapy and Coordinator of the Holistic Health Minor, I have enjoyed personal and professional growth and contributing in many ways to students, faculty and staff through the last 30 years. I appreciate our community outreach and clinical partnerships in the region as this highlights our mission to serve.
 Over the last decade, my Fulbright experiences in South Africa cultivated collaborations and sustained research throughout the global HIV pandemic. Knowing our graduates are part of our health care system brings great joy to me as the evolution of physical therapy has emerged to a clinical doctorate. Our Holistic Health Minor students are able to engage in wellness practices and extend these principles in the workplace and beyond the classroom. I envision the next 50 years with rich accomplishments, great vibrancy and innovation. 
The COVID-19 pandemic affords us the opportunity to explore best practices in education and technology and Stockton University is poised to embrace lessons learned and launch to greater heights in the next half century.  I look forward to our collective accomplishments with great eagerness, passion and engagement.”
- Mary Lou Galantino, Distinguished Professor of Physical Therapy

“Thirty years ago, I joined the Stockton community. If I had been asked to describe my hopes for Stockton thirty years in the future, I would have fallen way short of the university's mark to date. I will likely fall short in my hopes for Stockton in the future.
Stockton of the future is a world-renowned learning and research institution serving students from developed and developing countries and using that international diversity as an educational resource to inform the worldviews of learners in local, regional, and national communities. We will offer degrees, certificates, diplomas, short-term experiences, and creative programs for people to explore their interests.”
- Sonia Gonsalves, member, Board of Trustees   

“ My hope for Stockton University going forward would be to for it to continue to be an institution that provides an unparalleled learning environment, affordable to all students desiring an education by a caring and prestigious faculty, administered by a shared governance focused on  promoting diversity.
This type of learning environment has demonstrated great success for graduates of the institution and I feel we are poised to continue these accomplishments based on the strategic progress we have made in our financial stability, in our expansion and maintenance of our physical campus and our ability to attract diverse and highly qualified administrators, faculty and staff.”
- Raymond Ciccone, Chair,  Board of Trustees

“Stockton is so special to me and I am honored to have spent my entire adult life here at this amazing university. I am looking forward to all of the great things that Stockton will continue to do in the region as we grow and expand our positive reputation during the next 50 years.”
- Robert R. Heinrich, Chief Enrollment Management Officer

“I hope that we can stay true to our mission and provide excellent and affordable education to the population we serve. Continued state financial support is key to accomplishing this
- Andrew Dolce – member Board of Trustees 

"I look forward to seeing Stockton continue to expand its academic programs, especially in graduate studies. I would love to see the university grow into a leading voice in important, evolving fields like oceanography, sustainability, data science, and cybersecurity."
- Benjamin Yandell,  Student Senator

“I am looking forward to Stockton University continuing to examine itself and improve itself in terms of equity and diversity to be the best institution it can be.”
- Donnetrice Allison, Ph.D.,Professor and Chair of Africana Studies 

In Stockton's future, I hope we're able to garner a greater sense of community and spirit. It would also be nice to see Housing 1 redone and a bike share system installed on campus." 
- Irenonsen Eigbe, Student Senator