Stockton University has been chosen to receive the 2021 Excellence and Innovation Award for Regional and Economic Development from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
The national award recognizes the Stockton University Atlantic City campus for its contributions as an anchor institution in Atlantic City.
“Your ‘Stockton University, Atlantic City Campus: Anchor Institute in Action’ program was selected by the awards committee for its outstanding results and potential to influence and serve as a model for other institutions,” Mildred Garcia, president and CEO of the AASCU said in her letter notifying the university of the award.
The Stockton Atlantic City campus, part of the Gateway Project including AC Devco and South Jersey Industries, opened Phase I in fall 2018 with an academic center and a residential complex that houses 533 students. A second residence hall with 416 beds is scheduled to open in fall 2023.
The mission of the new campus is to expand opportunities for Stockton students in Atlantic City and to serve as a catalyst for community engagement, diversity and development in the city.
“It is a tremendous honor for Stockton to be recognized for its work in Atlantic City,” said President Harvey Kesselman. “We promised our students and the residents of Atlantic City that the campus would become a part of the community. This award recognizes that we are keeping that promise.”
Michelle McDonald, chief academic officer for Atlantic City, said prior to COVID-19 restrictions, more than 2,600 students were taking classes in Atlantic City, which will open again to students in the fall. Stockton operates a shuttle between the A.C. and Galloway campuses, allowing all students to take advantage of academic, social, internship and work opportunities on campus and in the city’s tourism and hospitality industry.
“We want to give all of our students access to different opportunities at both our main campus and the Atlantic City site,” McDonald said.
Stockton expanded its Educational Opportunity Fund program to add a cohort of students based at the Atlantic City campus. Several programs, including the Masters in Social Work, the MBA and MBA in Healthcare Administration, are housed at the Atlantic City campus, along with a host of undergraduate classes, especially those specializing in hospitality and tourism management.
The university has also reached out to younger students in the city with programs to help them prepare for college.
The university operates three after-school homework programs for city children, with almost 170 Stockton student and staff volunteers serving some 300 students annually. A state grant funds the GOALS GEAR UP program at the Atlantic City campus, which helps prepare over 180 middle and high school students from Atlantic City and Pleasantville for college.
Stockton is a founding member of the Chelsea Economic Development Corporation, coordinated by AC Devco, which is working to bring new business and residents to the neighborhood. This group also supports the Chelsea Boys and Girls Club and Mudgirls Studio’s job training program.
The success of the campus has also inspired philanthropic support through such programs as the Engelberg Leadership Scholarship Program, established by Atlantic City High School graduate Al Engelberg, which covers all costs for selected students from the Atlantic City area to attend Stockton. Several other scholarships have also been established to specifically assist Stockton students from the city.
The award will be formally presented at the AASCU Annual Meeting in Florida on Nov. 7.
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