I recently attended the Stockton University Vision Tour in Washington, D.C. and had the most profound experience. It was a great honor to personally meet incoming President, Dr Harvey Kesselman, and the First Lady. I secretly found even more pleasure learning about this newest version of my local state college. I left the event in awe with more than I expected about Stockton University.
I have the unique experience of knowing about this fine institution straight from my Grandmother’s voice. You see it was my Grandmother, Elizabeth Alton, who fought tirelessly to bring education into South Jersey at a time it so desperately needed it. She made it her own personal mission in the 1960’s to place the next New Jersey College in the southern portion of the state. During a cultural revolution when women were still fighting for a voice, she would drive to Trenton and sit in the Governor’s Office for hours until someone spoke to her. Some nights arriving home to her family after midnight, a daring foot in those days. She believed in her heart what she had to say was important; education should be an opportunity for everyone, not just for those in the more densely populated north segment of the state. And besides, they already had Rutgers which became one of her bargaining chips.
My Grandmother would not take no for an answer, eventually drawing alliances with Senator Farley and anyone who would join the fight in Trenton. An enormous amount of dedication won the battle, and on behalf of Atlantic County, in 1969 Stockton State College was established in Pomona, New Jersey.
As Dr. Kesselman shared Stockton’s future at the Vision Tour I found myself trying to play catch up. When had Stockton become a major player in the University realm? As I swallowed slide after slide of achievements and campus highlights I realized, admitting much to my surprise, this little state college had become an educational empire almost overnight. Armed with full University status Stockton had exceeded all expectations owing much of its success to passionate alumni and prized faculty. Could it be that the culture of Stockton is to keep building and dreaming just like my Grandmothers early vision? With new students on campus creating their own future through the local leaders and dedicated educators just like its predecessors?
As I left the Presidents Vision Tour I felt the magnitude of Stockton’s educational growth and success, its overflowing desire for community involvement, and dedicated alumni. Stockton University is a very special place. I am proud to be part of its distinct heritage and look forward to its bright future.