University News

Winter 2024 Issue
An aerial view of Stockton's Atlantic City campus

University News

Stockton Signs Student Exchange Agreements with South Korean University

Yunkeum Chang, president of Sookmyung Women’s University, New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy and Stockton President Joe Bertolino
From left, Yunkeum Chang, president of Sookmyung Women’s University, New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy and Stockton President Joe Bertolino signed an agreement establishing student exchange opportunities between the two institutions. | Photo credit: Choose New Jersey

President Joe Bertolino visited Sookmyung Women’s University — one of the world’s largest female educational institutes — and signed two academic agreements between the universities on Oct. 19, 2023.

The first establishes a joint study-abroad program and the second allows for the mutual exchange of students and materials between the universities. Bertolino and Yunkeum Chang, president of Sookmyung Women’s University, signed the agreements during Bertolino’s visit to East Asia as part of a Choose New Jersey governor-led economic mission this month.

The agreements provide students from both institutions with a path to study abroad and immerse themselves in a new culture, while learning about the hospitality industry from a global perspective.

“Time and again, studies have shown experiential learning to be a critical component in preparing students to succeed in the workforce,” Bertolino said. “Stockton University is excited to add a new opportunity to deliver on our mission of preparing students to succeed in a global society through the immersive learning made possible through this agreement. Our students will benefit by expanding their perspectives and experiencing the culture and life in South Korea, and we look forward to welcoming students from Sookmyung to our campuses in the Pinelands in Galloway and on the beach in Atlantic City.”

The agreements stand between the Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management Program in the School of Business at Stockton and the Division of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Management at Sookmyung. 

"This partnership will undoubtedly forge a path toward new horizons in global impact and the era of the New Normal," Chang said. "Since founded in 1906 by the Royal Family of the Joseon Dynasty, Sookmyung has played a pivotal role in women’s education in Korea. This partnership is a testament to our shared commitment to excellence and innovation in global education. We look forward to students from Stockton University igniting the sparks of curiosity at Sookmyung, a vibrant campus nestled in the heart of Seoul."

New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy attended the signing. “I am so thrilled that we are taking another step toward bringing our countries even closer together by welcoming more South Korean students to New Jersey. At Stockton University, students will have a chance to study at one of the top hospitality programs in the United States,” she said.

Conference Emphasizes Importance of Teachers of Color

A study found that over 50 schools in New Jersey don’t employ a single teacher of color, even though, according to the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), students of color make up over 50% of state schools.

In response to the wide disparity, faculty members Stacey Culleny and Meg White of the School of Education created an all-day conference for high school students to promote the field of education.

The Future Teachers of Color Conference came to fruition May 17, 2023 with more than 200 local students in attendance.

“As we saw today, there’s such value in students being able to relate to their educators, both on a professional level and on a personal level,” Culleny said. “And we can tell students every day that they can be anything that they want to be, but they need to see those models and to have somebody to mentor and give them guidance. We’re really hoping that this will help not only ease the current teacher shortage in general but more importantly, also represent our K-12 student population correctly with teachers of color.” 

High school students in a college classroom listening intently
The Future Teachers of Color Conference sought to inspire, spark important dialogue and encourage future educators to take on the role. | Photo by Mark Melhorn

White remembered seeing a student walk into one of the sessions and immediately point out one of the many multicultural posters adorning the walls. On them were various philosophers, artists and authors of color, and lessons in Math and English from different parts of the world, including India. The Indian student smiled as he told White about the poster and what he liked about it which affirmed White’s goal of centering the experiences of people of color in education for this conference.

“That’s what we’re trying to do here, right? It’s all about representation,” White said. “Like for him to come in and feel this way after seeing a poster… I almost got a little teary over that.”

The conference included breakout sessions where students learned about the significance of teacher-student relationships from two-time Stockton alumna (and current doctoral candidate for the Ed.D. program) Brenda Brathwaite of the Atlantic City School District and the power of coaching, advising and mentoring by Cynthia Sanchez-Munoz, Tim Watson and Randy Dean of Cedar Creek High School. 

In addition to learning how Stockton students found their purpose in the Education field, the high schoolers had the opportunity to meet Stockton School of Education faculty members and tour the campus with Admissions Ambassadors.

Donation Renames Financial Literacy Center for Late Economics Professor

A $2 million commitment in June named the Center for Economic Development and Financial Literacy after Elizabeth “Betty” Elmore, who spent five decades teaching economics at Stockton University. 

Elmore passed away in December 2022 after a lengthy illness. Her husband, Richard, of Egg Harbor Township, wanted to honor the memory of his beloved wife by supporting the University's work related to her passion for finance and economics.  

“Betty was proud to be the first female professor in the Economics department, and she was incredibly dedicated to Stockton and her students,” Richard Elmore said. 

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 who understand the interdependence of national economies in the global community and the role of financial institutions in the sustainability of these relationships. In recent years, Elmore served as director of the center. 

The Elmores have long supported the Stockton University Foundation, having established the Frances Leonilda Acerra Christopher Memorial Fund and the Elmore Family Stockton Center for Economic and Financial Literacy Fund. 

“I am grateful for your generosity and to know that Dr. Elmore will have a lasting legacy at Stockton,” said Brigid Callahan Harrison, ’88, chair of the Stockton University Foundation, who recalled taking “Econometrics” as a student with Elmore.

A group of five individuals in the President's conference room
From left: Brigid Callahan Harrison, the chair of the Stockton University Foundation; Richard Elmore, a former Stockton professor and husband of Elizabeth Elmore; former President Harvey Kesselman; Susan Davenport, former executive vice president and chief of staff; and Dan Nugent, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the University Foundation. | Photo by Stacey Clapp

Nearly $700,000 Grant Will Tag NJ Harbor Seals for First Time

Everyone has seen bottlenose dolphins swimming near beaches in the summer. You might also catch a humpback whale or two off the coast.

But did you know that harbor seals also have a regular seasonal home in South Jersey?

“A lot of people aren’t aware that harbor seals occur in New Jersey,” said marine mammal biologist Jackie Toth Sullivan, who’s also an adjunct faculty member at Stockton. “This is likely because seals are here in large numbers during the winter months. There aren’t that many people on the beach or on the water in January, February or March.”

Sullivan said for years as many as 360 seals have gathered to rest and forage in Great Bay — the largest haul-out site in New Jersey. Two other known haul-out sites include Sandy Hook – Gateway National Recreation Area (about 100 seals) and Barnegat Light on Long Beach Island (about 30 seals). The seals begin to gather in October and November and usually stay through March or April in large numbers, she said.

A new nearly $700,000 grant gives Stockton faculty members, staff and students a unique opportunity to examine this animal population through a first-ever satellite tagging operation in New Jersey.

Stockton personnel will work alongside tagging experts from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS) for this three-year, $682,890 grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Research and Monitoring Initiative (RMI). The RMI is a joint venture between the NJDEP and the state Bureau of Public Utilities to address the need for research and monitoring of the state’s marine resources throughout the phases of offshore wind development and operation.

“The purpose of the study is to, first, better understand the movement patterns of harbor seals both in New Jersey, as well as regionally,” Toth Sullivan said. “We would like to understand if these harbor seals are using specific areas offshore for certain behaviors. For example, are windfarm lease areas being used as foraging grounds, and does this behavior change over time due to natural or anthropogenic impacts?”

“This research will not only give scientists much-needed insight into the migration behaviors of this growing population of harbor seals but will also provide Stockton University students with the opportunity to perform sophisticated data analyses and to participate in a multi-institutional study with far-reaching implications,” said Amanda Norvell, dean of Stockton’s School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “We are incredibly excited about this work and the scientific contributions of Professor Toth Sullivan and her colleagues.”


Stockton Group to Explore Continued Growth in Atlantic City

Stockton has officially begun efforts to study options that would enhance its impact in Atlantic City.  

Strong demand for student housing in Atlantic City led to Stockton formally opening the Phase II residential complex across from O’Donnell Memorial Park in May. More than 900 Stockton students will live at the University’s two Atlantic City residential complexes this fall.

President Joe Bertolino has formed a working group comprised of several members of the Stockton University Board of Trustees, alumni, business and community leaders, as well as students, faculty and staff. Their primary initial task is hiring an experienced firm to conduct a feasibility study for Phase III, which is currently a 2.25-acre parking lot between Hartford and Albany avenues. Stockton does not own the property but would partner with AC Devco in the development of the project.

“As an Anchor Institution, we are committed to being in and of the community,” Bertolino said. “In partnership, we will actively explore opportunities that would best enhance experiences for our students and elevate the impact of Stockton as a good neighbor within Atlantic City.”

Community Mourns Passing of K-9 Hemi

Retired Stockton University K-9 Hemi passed away in early June 20023, just shy of his 14th birthday.

Hemi was Stockton’s first K-9 unit and served with his handler, Lt. Tracy Stuart, from 2011 until his retirement in 2020. 

The Stockton University Police Department added Hemi to its ranks by securing a competitive NJ Detect and Render Safe Task Force grant through Homeland Security. Stockton was one of only seven departments statewide to receive the grant and the only college police department.

Lt. Tracy Stuart hugging Hemi the chocolate lab
K-9 Hemi and his handler Lt. Tracy Stuart shared a special bond. | Photo by Susan Allen

Stuart was selected as the canine handler and assisted the department in choosing the chocolate lab. Hemi was named through a university-wide poll. He graduated from the New Jersey State Police K-9 Police Academy, a rigorous 16-week training program on July 7, 2011.

The K-9 team of Hemi and Stuart served on a New Jersey regional bomb detection taskforce and were called to action to investigate bomb threats, dignitary visits, parades and special events deemed vulnerable to terroristic attacks. 

While he was a talented explosive detection dog, Hemi’s real gift was in community engagement. Hemi loved the Stockton community and was a pillar of SUPD’s community policing efforts. Whether coffee with cops, pizza with police or in costume for Halloween, Hemi was there to great staff and students who enjoyed petting him and taking photos with him. He was truly beloved by the community. 

Hemi wearing a graduation cap
Hemi dressed for the part when accompanying Stuart at her master's commencement. | Photo by Susan Allen

"It is truly devastating to have lost my original ride-or-die in K-9 Hemi. It's hard to imagine a world without him in it. I know the Stockton community, whom Hemi loved, mourns with me," Stuart said. "I try to find solace in the countless happy memories of his campus community engagement shenanigans that made people laugh as well as his incredible service achievements."

Hemi accompanied Stuart when she earned her master’s degree from Stockton and served with her when she was promoted to sergeant and lieutenant. Stuart was not only Hemi’s canine partner, but also his caretaker. In 2020, Hemi retired from service and became Stuart’s pet.

Alumni Honored for Outstanding Achievement

The annual Alumni Achievement Awards & Volunteer Banquet brought together more than 100 alumni, faculty, staff and friends to celebrate the accomplishments of six distinguished Stockton graduates and recognized the valuable contributions of all alumni who volunteer their time at Stockton.

The event was held on May 18, 2023 in the Fannie Lou Hamer Event Room at Stockton's Atlantic City campus.

The Six alumni honorees pose with their plaques and Sara Faurot
Sara Faurot, director of Alumni Relations, far left, presented each of the honorees with their awards. The awards were selected by the Alumni Council on Engagement. | Photo by Vern Ogrodnek

The awards selection process is organized by the Alumni Council on Engagement (ACE), a volunteer board of Stockton graduates dedicated to supporting the work of the Alumni Relations department and encouraging their fellow Ospreys to become engaged with the university.

Alumni and members of the broader Stockton community were asked to nominate graduates for recognition in a number of categories. Nominations focused on professional accomplishments, service to the community and dedication to Stockton. Those selected to be recognized have demonstrated exceptional perseverance and success in both their personal and professional lives, while consistently embodying the values of higher education and community engagement. 

The following alumni were recognized for their outstanding achievements: 

David G. Brown ’78 – Alumni Impact Award

Brown is the political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper and featured contributor to the Washington Post and San Francisco Bay View newspapers.

Raymond Ciccone ’79 – Presidential Service Award

Ciccone is a CPA with the firm Ciccone, Koseff & Company in Ship Bottom and the Forensic Accounting Group in New York.

Tim Lenahan ’83 – Professional Achievement Award

Lenahan is recognized as one of the top soccer program builders in NCAA history as he took three programs to conference championships. 

Mary Natale ’22 – GOLD Alumni Award

Natale serves in the Administration Unit for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and has served in emergency medicine through multiple capacities as an emergency medical technician.

Irvin Moreno-Rodriguez ’15 – Campus Partner Award

Moreno-Rodriguez, assistant director of the Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center, recognizes and values Stockton alumni and utilizes them as ambassadors for their own programs.

Lauren Rowek ’16 – Alumni Volunteer Award

Rowek is a logistics management specialist at Naval Warfare Center Aircraft Division among other impressive accomplishments.


Stockton Professer Donates Fannie Lou Hamer Statue to A.C.

Thanks to the donation of a Stockton University professor, the legacy of civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer has been permanently enshrined in the place where she changed history.

Members of the Stockton community pose with the statue of Fannie Lou Hamer
From left, Stockton President Joe Bertolino; Brian Jackson, chief operating officer of Stockton’s Atlantic City campus; Patricia Reid-Merritt, Stockton Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies and Social Work; Brian Hanlon, sculptor of the statue; and Donnetrice Allison, professor of Africana Studies and Communication Studies. | Photo by Lizzie Nealis

An over-7-foot-tall resin statue of the woman who fought for voting rights for Black Americans was unveiled Oct. 10, 2023, during a ceremony at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The hall was the site of the 1964 Democratic National Convention where Hamer made history by giving testimony in opposition to an all-white Mississippi delegation.

“It’s going where it belongs,” said Patricia Reid-Merritt, a Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies and Social Work, before the ceremony. “For all the great things and contributions that Fannie Lou Hamer made to the civil rights struggle, what she is known for is that speech in Atlantic City. It’s a tribute to her legacy and Stockton’s efforts to uplift her legacy.”

The statue is a resin mold of a Hamer statue designed by Brian Hanlon, an acclaimed Toms River-based master sculptor. The original statue was erected in Hamer’s hometown of Ruleville, Mississippi, in 2012 by the National Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Statue Committee. Reid-Merritt was the chair of that committee, and Hanlon felt it was fitting to donate the resin statue to her.

“This statue will both educate and inspire young people here,” Hanlon said. “They should learn more about Fannie Lou. I don’t think her story is told enough. The spirit of her as a woman in encouraging other women to get involved with politics and voter rights is very important.”

More than 150 people watched as the statue was unveiled as part of the Atlantic City Experience historical display created by the Atlantic City Free Public Library. Robert Rynkiewicz, the library’s director, said the statue is an important reminder that “Atlantic City isn’t just about celebrity. It’s about history.”


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