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Getting Started

In this section of the volume focuses on the earliest days of the College, from the planning undertaken by President Bjork, the board members, and the newly appointed deans, to the College's first classes at the Mayflower Hotel in Atlantic City.

We begin with three different views of the early years. Based upon Elizabeth Alton's autobiography, and two interviews undertaken with David Taylor and Magda Leuchter, Ken Tompkins provides insights into what they believed they were endeavoring to accomplish, and how they perceived the College that they helped to found.

What name the new institution would adopt was a very important issue, as for many at the time it seemed to signify what kind of college it would become. Would it be a local college with locally recruited students, or would it reach for state and regional influence? We endeavor to highlight the conflicts revolving around the name selection, show what alternatives were offered, bring into question several of the narratives associated with the naming, and consider briefly some of the reasons that the name has not always been considered a blessing.

The next essays provide insight into what several of the administrators at Stockton were doing and what they accomplished. Rob Gregg provides a glimpse into the mindset of the founding president, Richard Bjork, about whom so many have had strong feelings. Gregg finds much to praise about what Bjork did, and certainly finds no lack of vision in this activist president, but notes that many of his problems were those of his own making—in his belief that to be good he needed to be unpopular. Ken Tompkins then describes all the early deans who worked alongside him when the doors of the college opened, and Dan Moury gives an intimate view of what it was like to be a new dean at Stockton.

The essays that follow then drill a bit deeper into the Stockton foundation, revealing what was established at other levels. Richard Gajewski describes his experiences as the founding Vice President of Administration and Finance, responsible for overseeing the securing of land, budgets, and even undertaking some precepting. Richard Schwartz provides a very detailed and informative piece about what was going on behind the scenes in the planning and the building of the Pomona campus, showing what a remarkable feat of engineering and construction the main campus was, and why it would become such an important asset for the college over the years. Dan Moury follows with an in-depth view of the earliest days in the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics, giving a clear sense of why it was that that division (now school) developed such a strong sense of community and identity.

Richard Pesqueira provides a strong sense of the idealism affecting many like himself who arrived at the college. He had been comfortably established at a college in California, only to feel the urge to contribute to this experiment in southern New Jersey. He came east to take charge of Student Affairs at Stockton, which he found to be very rewarding, though sometimes difficult owing to Bjork's position on the role of Student Affairs at his college. James Williams also had a difficult job in endeavoring to establish a police force at the college. As his essay shows, he needed to provide security in such a way that he would not alienate students and faculty, who were very much influenced by 1960s culture, while also appearing to be professional to the other forces in the region. His work was not made easier by the fact that he was the only African American chief in the region, and he needed to work hard to earn the respect of some insensitive colleagues who frequently referred to him as "the boy out there at Stockton."

The section ends with two pieces about the Mayflower period. Joe Tosh provides the perspective of a student in those heady days, while Lew Steiner focuses on the "sinking" of the Mayflower. Lew was the photographer for the Argo, and when the college moved to the main campus he fabricated a picture that made it seem as if the hotel was sinking into the ocean. The Mayflower had been a temporary vessel for the college, so this apparent demise seemed only fitting.

Throughout the section one gets a clear sense that hope was in the air. For all of those present at the founding, Stockton was supposed to be a different college. Indeed it was intended to be unlike all the colleges that the founders had experienced in their own educations. But could it fulfill this promise? Could it reach for the highest ideals and meet the expectations of all those who arrived in Pomona to become a part of the Stockton experiment.

Inside Getting Started:

What Have I Done?—Elizabeth Alton
Ken Tompkins
Choosing a Solution—David Taylor
Ken Tompkins
No Mere Substitute—Magda Leuchter
Ken Tompkins
Shakespeare Had it Wrong
Ken Tompkins and Rob Gregg
Breaking Eggs—Richard Bjork
Rob Gregg
Children of the Sixties
Daniel N. Moury
In a Heart Beat
Ken Tompkins
Richard Gajewski
Stockton Campus Planning, 1969-1974
Richard N. Schwartz
Different from the Beginning—NAMS
Daniel N. Moury
Why Go East?
Richard E. Pesqueira
Policing the Academy
James A. Williams

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