|October 1, 2004
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The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey has taken a major step in its development with the approval of $104 million in bonds for new construction at the College.
The Board of Trustees approved financing the funds as the first phase of a major long-range expansion program that will evolve over the next five years. It will initially include the construction of a College Center, parking garage and a new classroom building. Additional student housing is also being considered both on campus and off through a partnership with a private developer.
The College is also considering financing an additional $91.2 million for a new science building.
The projects are seen as essential, even if the College does not expand beyond its current enrollment of just under 7,000 full and part time students.
"Much time has gone into considering the need for these new facilities," said Board of Trustees Chairperson, Gerald Weinstein. "Now the time has come for action. Interest rates are favorable and this is something we need to do to remain among the elite public liberal arts colleges.
Elizabeth Alton Auditorium Dedication Highlights Presidential Inauguration
A campus-wide celebration of Stockton's proud heritage was merged with its bold plans for the future, Tuesday Sept. 28, when the College conducted its first-ever inauguration of a President. Herman J. Saatkamp, Jr. was formally installed as the fourth president of the institution, amid the pomp and pageantry of academic regalia. The event was attended by dozens of educators, business and community leaders, and was described by the President as a bridge from Stockton's historic past to its ambitious future.
One of the highlights of the day was the re-dedication of the former A-Wing Lecture Hall as Elizabeth Alton Auditorium. The ceremony honored Mrs. Alton, who in the 1960's was a tireless advocate and worker on behalf of the founding of the college. Many longtime Stockton Community members doubt the legislation creating Stockton ever would have been passed in 1969 were it not for Mrs. Alton's efforts.
President Saatkamp and Board of Trustees Chairman Gerald Weinstein, unveiled a plaque designating the auditorium in Mrs. Alton's honor. There will also be an extensive renovation program put into place to refurbish the lecture hall.
Mrs. Alton, 97, was unable to be at the ceremony due to the inclement weather, but sent her family's greetings through her granddaughter, Karen Alton.
"She is a real spitfire," Karen said. "Our entire family is so proud of her. She was ahead of her time. She was determined to work toward a goal she believed in, no matter what stood in her way. She is a role model to me."
Mrs. Alton came from a long line of founders in the Atlantic City region. Her grandfather was one of the originators of the Atlantic City boardwalk, the world's first. He kept sections of the wooden-planked walkway in his barn near Port Republic during the winter and transported them to the beach and placed them on the sand during tourist season. And one of Mrs. Alton's aunts was a founder of the Atlantic City Library, housed for 80 years in the Carnegie building which is now the Carnegie Library Center, satellite center of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
Her efforts to found Stockton began almost by accident. Asked to speak at a meeting of the Atlantic City Kiwanis Club, Mrs. Alton made a presentation about the anniversary of Rutgers University. But during the speech she mentioned that South Jersey needed its own state college, and the local newspaper picked up her words.
"Before you knew it, I was asked to speak before all kinds of groups," she said. "I was invited to address a large Jewish congregation in Atlantic City and I had never been in a synagogue before," she confides. "I remember thinking, 'what am I going to say to hold the interest of these people, much less get them to buy into my plan?'"
Despite any misgivings, Mrs. Alton's impassioned plea caught on. It soon became a battle cry throughout Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland Counties and powerful State Senator Frank S. (Hap) Farley got behind the effort.
He (Farley) didn't like me, but he knew my cause was popular and it meant votes," Mrs. Alton said. "He couldn't afford to ignore me."
Throughout the campaign to get Stockton started, Mrs. Alton overcame many obstacles. At one point she was actually called to jury duty, she suspects, just to prevent her from testifying at a hearing in Trenton about the need for the College.
There was a second struggle over the location of the new college. Mrs. Alton's favored location of then nearly all-rural Galloway Township won out over an alternate location in the western part of the county near Buena. After a year in the defunct and now demolished Mayflower Hotel on the Atlantic City boardwalk (1971,) the College opened its new campus the following year.
When I look at what the College has become and how it has evolved, I'm pleased," Mrs. Alton said. It didn't seem possible, but here we are 34 years later with a top-flight liberal arts college."
First Stockton "Day of Service" a Huge Success
Nearly 140 student volunteers, new freshmen and transfer students participated in the first Stockton Day of Service throughout the community recently, and the event was deemed a huge success.
A few of the agencies benefiting from our students' service were area nursing homes, the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, Jean Webster's Kitchen, local fire departments and municipal facilities.
According to Brenda Sterling, coordinator of the event and a staff member in Dean Eileen Conran's office, the idea was to give back to the community and to get to know one another in an informal setting.
"This type of event helps our students to broaden their experience and to meet new people and to become familiar with the area community in general," Sterling said. "I think for many of these students it was an eye-opener in terms of what our community has to offer and how they can make a difference by sharing their talents."
Dean Conran and her staff contacted dozens of local agencies and asked what tasks Stockton students could help with. The responses ranged from general interaction with residents of nursing homes such as Absecon Manor Sunrise Center and Seashore Gardens, to crawling in the mud at the Forsythe Wildlife Refuge in Galloway to restore the habitat of different species of birds.
Some of the other activities included replacing a portable storage tent for rescue vehicles at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, installing new shelving and working in the kitchen at Jean Webster's Atlantic City Kitchen to aid the homeless, eco-planting at Patriot Lake in Galloway, and beautification of facilities such as the Girl Scouts of the South Jersey Pines, Galloway Twp. Schools, and the Bayview Fire Companies in Galloway.
Other activities took place right here on Stockton's campus. Some volunteers worked with Water Watch and Stockton Action Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) on campus cleanup, others repaired bicycles for a campus transportation program, and another group worked in the Library cleaning computers.
In addition to helping local community members the students were matched up to work with students with whom they were not previously acquainted.
"This was a great way to help people and make some new friends at the same time," one of the volunteers said.
Greek Endowment Finalized
The American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture (AFGLC) entered into a unique relationship with the college recently, finalizing a $300,000 endowment to begin funding an Interdisciplinary Center for the preservation and study of the Greek Culture and language at Stockton.
Dr. Peter Yiannos, President/Director of the Tri-State Executive Committee of the AFGLC, a non-profit, public educational organization headquartered in Tampa, FL, came to Stockton to sign paperwork formalizing the agreement for the center. Stockton is one of only three such centers in the United States. The others are at the University of South Florida in Tampa and the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Internationally, the Foundation has established centers in Athens and Bogota, Colombia. Stockton will be affiliated with the Tri-state Regional Headquarters for Hellenic Studies covering New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Stockton's center currently includes components in Greek language, literature, culture, philosophy and Byzantine Civilization and religion.
Demetrious Constantelos, the Charles Townsend Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies and Research Scholar in Residence at Stockton, serves as the Center's honorary director. A resident of Linwood, Dr. Constantelos has been instrumental in the development of Stockton's existing Greek studies program.
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