A Look Back at 2023

Students during the Fall Open House

2023 was an action-packed year at Stockton University.

Galloway, N.J. – As we close out 2023, we reflect on a year of celebrations, milestones and expansion at Stockton University. Join us in counting down the days to 2024 by viewing highlights from the past 12 months.

A Presidential Transition

President Emeritus Harvey Kesselman with cabinet members, posing with his portrait

President Joe Bertolino and cabinet members

President Joe with students during his ice cream social

President Joe at his first board meeting

President Joe chatting with students

President Joe posing for a photo with a prospective freshman and his family during an open house

Following a seven-month search, Stockton announced Dr. Joe Bertolino as Stockton’s sixth president in March. He officially took over the role July 1 after the retirement of Dr. Harvey Kesselman. Kesselman had served as president for eight years and spent nearly five decades at Stockton.

Kesselman was honored at the 2023 Stockton Foundation Scholarship Benefit Gala.

At his first State of the University Address in October, Bertolino confidently declared that “the state of the school’s future is optimistic and filled with opportunities and possibilities.

“Dr. (Terricita) Sass and I have spent our first 120 days meeting with and intentionally listening to every constituency here at Stockton and beyond. It’s been a busy four months, and we are committed to continuing our understanding of this community,” he said.

His inauguration is scheduled for April 12. Follow @OspreyPrez on Instagram, Facebook and X for updates on his activities.

Expanding in Atlantic City

The new Parkview Place at Stockton - Atlantic City

Students moving into the Atlantic City campus

President Emeritus Harvey Kesselman unveiling the new "Harvey Kesselman Way" in Atlantic City

Kesselman Hall at the Atlantic City campus

Student volunteers during April's annual Community Clean Up and Party in the Park

Annual Party in the Park in Atlantic City

Stockton further cemented its presence in Atlantic City this year with the opening of Parkview Hall, a second residential complex, in May.

The 135,000-square-foot, six-story building is located at the corner of Atlantic and South Providence avenues across from O’Donnell Memorial Park. It’s just a short walk from the rest of the Stockton Atlantic City campus, which opened in 2018. Now, more than 900 Stockton students live in the city each year.

On the same day as the ribbon-cutting, the university unveiled a new name for the first residence hall. Kesselman Hall borders the newly designated Dr. Harvey Kesselman Way, which was dedicated by Atlantic City. Kesselman, Stockton’s fifth president, retired in June.

Also in the spring, Stockton hosted its second annual Community Day Clean Up and Party in the Park. Nearly 700 people assisted in the cleanup throughout the city.

Multicultural Center Opens

President Emeritus Harvey Kesselman and the team behind the Multicultural Center cutting the ribbon in February

Jovin Fernandez, director of the Multicultural Center, during her remarks

Students surrounding Professor of Music Bev Vaughn on the piano during the afterparty

Student Senator Joshua Hunte gave brief remarks during the ribbon-cutting

Students posing for a photo in the center

After three years of careful preparation and campus-wide anticipation, the Multicultural Center officially opened its doors on Feb. 22. The space – which includes a flexible, multipurpose lounge, full kitchen and conference room – has quickly become a home away from home to students, faculty and staff.

When the center isn’t hosting educational programs or initiatives such as TogetHER and Sankofa, it’s providing a space of reprieve for members of the entire campus community, who are typically greeted with the welcoming smiles of the Proud, Resilient, Educated Peers (P.R.E.P.) Team, the smell of delicious food and the sound of music wafting through the speakers.

Celebrating Milestones

Staff and faculty surrounding the statue of Fannie Lou Hamer that was recently donated to Atlantic City

Shirley N. Weber during her keynote speech at the 20th annual FLH Symposium

Student Lillian Nickels singing her solo during the symposium

Staff members of Kramer Hall and the Noyes Museum of Art posing for a group photo during their 10th anniversary celebration

Participants completing a large paint-by-numbers activity during Kramer Hall's celebration

The musical guest for the 10th anniversary of Kramer Hall

Twenty years ago, an idea by a professor inspired by the understated legacy of a voting rights activist transformed into a symposium that brings distinguished thought leaders to campus and invites them to lead conversations surrounding social justice and civil rights. Students, faculty and staff don’t just learn about Fannie Lou Hamer’s journey from sharecropper to civil rights advocate – they learn how they, too, can become advocates for and in their communities.

In honor of the 20th anniversary, the symposium hosted two celebrations: one in Atlantic City, where Distinguished Professor Patricia Reid-Merritt donated an over 7-foot-tall statue of the civil rights icon to Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, and the traditional celebration in Galloway, complete with dance performances, poem recitations and a keynote speech by Shirley N. Weber, California’s first Black Secretary of State.

Ten also proved to be a lucky number this year: Kramer Hall – Stockton’s instructional site in Hammonton and home to the Noyes Museum of Art – and Stockton’s Model United Nations both celebrated their 10th anniversaries.

Creating New Opportunities

Presidents Joe Bertolino and Lovell Pugh-Bassett (Camden County College) posing for a photo after signing Esports agreement

Students during the Esports agreement signing

High schoolers checking out Stockton's Esports lab

Presidents Bertolino and Barbara Gaba (Atlantic Cape Community College) and EVP Terricita Sass posing for a photo after signing 3+1 agreement

President Bertolino with President Yunkeum Chang (Sookmyung Women’s University) and NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy in South Korea, posing for a photo after signing agreement

The university continued to expand its educational offerings in 2023 beginning with the creation of a Bachelor of Science in Esports Management degree program through the School of Business. Starting in the fall, Stockton became the first public institution in New Jersey to offer an undergraduate degree in esports. To help support the new program, Stockton offered a new dual-credit offering, Introduction to Esports, to Middle Township High School students and created the first esports degree pathway program in the state by partnering with Camden County College.

Stockton also announced in October a new 3+1 pathway partnership program with Atlantic Cape Community College that provides students with a cost-effective way to begin their higher education at Atlantic Cape and culminate in a baccalaureate degree from Stockton.

Finally, new President Joe Bertolino joined New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on a trip to Asia in October and signed two academic agreements with Sookmyung Women’s University that will establish a joint study-abroad program between the schools. 

National Recognition and Growth

Students talking amongst themselves in the hallway of F-wing

Students walking in front of the Campus Center

Students talking, laughing outside K-wing

Col. Yvonne Mays, keynote speaker for this year's Vets Day celebration, checking out the Faces of Stockton's Military Community Photo Project

Stockton jumped to No. 84 among the Top 100 Public National Universities, in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report College Rankings. Stockton ranked 84 out of 227 public colleges and universities in the nation and No. 159 of 436 on the Best National Universities list.

Stockton also vaulted 49 spots to No. 26 among the Top Performers on Social Mobility – National Universities. This category highlights schools that actively and effectively enroll and graduate large proportions of economically disadvantaged students awarded Pell Grants.

“These rankings make clear Stockton is a place where everyone belongs,” President Joe Bertolino said.

Additionally, Military Times included Stockton on its “Best for Vets: Colleges” list and recognized Stockton as one of the top schools in the state and in the Mid-Atlantic for military service members and veterans. Stockton was ranked No. 2 in New Jersey and No. 10 in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Also notable, the Criminal Justice program became the first in the country to earn the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) Endorsement for academic quality. To receive the endorsement, the ACJS conducted an external review of Stockton’s undergraduate program and assessed it against the ACJS Academic Quality Standards.

Building a Culture of Giving

Students during this year's Ospreys Give

Students during this year's Ospreys Give

Talon Taxi Trivia during Ospreys Give

President Emeritus Harvey Kesselman, EVP Emeritus Susan Davenport, Foundation members and Betty Elmore's husband

President Joe Bertolino and EVP Terricita Sass with Spencers/Spirit

The Stockton University Foundation’s sixth annual 24-hour day of giving campaign, Ospreys Give, set a record for the number of donors, with more than 1,100 contributing more than $440,000 toward scholarships and programs.

Leading the effort was a $250,000 challenge gift from Spencer’s and Spirit Halloween. The gift will support the School of Business. The Egg Harbor Township-based company has close ties to Stockton — 17% of its workforce is comprised of Stockton alumni.

The new donation will go toward three different initiatives at Stockton: $100,000 to continue the existing scholarship fund for Computer Science and Marketing students; $100,000 to support School of Business internships and $50,000 to support the creation of new School of Business programs.

The Foundation also received a $2 million commitment from the Elmore family in June to rename the Center for Economic Development and Financial Literacy after Elizabeth “Betty” Elmore. She spent five decades teaching economics at Stockton and passed away in December 2022. The Dr. Elizabeth Elmore Center for Economic Development and Financial Literacy’s mission is to develop engaged and informed students, citizens, voters, workers, consumers, savers and investors. In recent years, Elmore served as director of the center. 

Ospreys on Top

Senior weight thrower Shahyan Abraham became the first Osprey to be named the Metro Region Field Athlete of the Year.

The men’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III tournament for the second year in a row.

First-year women’s volleyball player Nicole Palmer was named the New Jersey Atlantic Conference Player of the Year. 

Junior field hockey player Allie Palumbo became the first Osprey to earn All-American status when she was named to the third team.

 Senior Kyion Flanders was named the NJAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

The varsity eight boat went undefeated, including a gold medal at the prestigious Dad Vail Regatta.

Junior Erik Ackerman was named the NJAC Runner of the Year after winning the conference’s individual championship in October.

For the second year in a row, the men’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III tournament. Stockton also reached the New Jersey Athletic Conference championship game for the fourth straight year. Senior Kyion Flanders was named the NJAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

The women’s rowing team flourished under first-year coach Chris O’Brien. The varsity eight boat went undefeated, including gold medals at the Dad Vail Regatta and the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference Championships. O’Brien was named MARC Coach of the Year.

In March, weight thrower Shahyan Abraham became the first Osprey to be named the Metro Region Field Athlete of the Year. She was also named the NJAC Outstanding Field Athlete for the winter season.

First-year women’s volleyball player Nicole Palmer was named NJAC Player of the Year, and junior field hockey player Allie Palumbo became the first Osprey to earn All-American status when she was named to the third team.

Stockton junior cross country runner Erik Ackerman was named the NJAC Runner of the Year after winning the conference’s individual championship in October. Ackerman’s time of 26 minutes, 1.1 seconds defeated a field of 88 runners.

A Message of Strength

Arnold Schwarzenegger during his remarks

Arnold meeting the late Gail Rosenthal, director of the HRC

Arnold meeting local Holocaust survivors

Arnold with students, taking a selfie with one

Arnold meeting Irvin Moreno-Rodriguez, interim director of the HRC

Arnold during his remarks

More than 600 students, faculty, staff and guests, including Holocaust survivors, listened to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s message on terminating hate in March. 

Schwarzenegger has spent most of his life helping people build their strength. 

“Your muscles only grow from resistance. It wasn’t easy. It was uncomfortable. Your mind and character are no different than your body and muscles,” the former bodybuilder and movie star said. “It is easier to hate than it is to learn. Easier isn’t better.”

Schwarzenegger began his visit at the Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center on Stockton’s Galloway campus, where he met with local Holocaust survivors and their families and learned about the internationally recognized center, which preserves and shares the history of the Holocaust and life stories of South Jersey survivors.

Schwarzenegger was born in Austria shortly after World War II to a former Nazi soldier. Since serving as California governor, Schwarzenegger has been outspoken about fighting antisemitism and hate. While at Stockton, he received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. 

Celebrating Our Students

A graduate running to hug Claudine Keenan, dean of the School of Education

President Emeritus Harvey Kesselman during his remarks

Students in Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall

Student Dalia Moamed

Student Divya Rajput

Students Lynn Tran and Ivett Carrasco

“Lead where you’re planted.”

Almost 3,000 students who graduated and walked the stage in Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall for their diploma heard these words from then-President Harvey Kesselman during the two Commencement ceremonies in May.

Leadership and self-development were common themes in this year’s speeches by keynote speaker Chris Paladino, president of the Atlantic City Development Corporation, and student speakers Dalia Moamed and Divya Rajput; all of them encouraged the graduates to go out and take the world by the reins armed with the experiences and knowledge that Stockton has provided them with. 

Exploring New Programs

Students get a closer look at remotely operated vehicles that were purchased with a $500,000 grant by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the graduate-level Coastal Zone Management Program.

A student uses sonar instrumentation to help identify lost crab pots as part of a marine debris removal program. The program received a $1.4 million grant from NOAA.

The state Department of Environmental Protection awarded a $700,000 grant to fund the first-ever satellite tagging operation of harbor seals in New Jersey.

The Education Technology Training Center continues to train kindergarten through 12th grade teachers in computer science.

Communication Studies students interview Brian Jackson, the chief operating officer of the Atlantic City campus, as part of Stories of Atlantic City, which is using part of a $100,000 grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

Stockton benefited from millions of dollars of grants from federal and state agencies to create new research opportunities for students, faculty and staff. Several of the grants benefited the university’s marine research programs, with the largest being a $1.4 million award, one of the largest ever given to the Marine Field Station, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for marine debris removal. NOAA also provided a $500,000 grant to provide new resources to the graduate-level Coastal Zone Management Program. The state Department of Environmental Protection awarded a $700,000 grant to fund a first-ever satellite tagging operation of harbor seals in New Jersey.

But it wasn’t just scientific research that received support, the state Department of Labor provided nearly $1 million to create a pilot program to help recovery court graduates in Atlantic and Cape May counties get jobs after being placed on probation.

The Educational Technology Training Center has trained more than 400 K-12 teachers in computer science thanks to a $444,445 grant from the state, and a $100,000 grant by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation will help Stories of Atlantic City and the Noyes Arts Garage expand programming. 

– Story by Stacey Clapp, Mark Melhorn and Loukaia Taylor

– Photos by Susan Allen and Stockton staff

A Look Back at 2022

Galloway, N.J. – As we close out 2022, we reflect on a year of celebrations, milestones and expansion at Stockton. Join us in counting down the days to 2023 by viewing highlights from the past 12 months.

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