GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — It was the day of the Get Involved Fair at Stockton University, and Lynne Kesselman couldn’t wait to walk through the hallways, look at all the organizations recruiting new members and learn about new ones she hadn’t seen before.
“There are just so many now, and so much variety,” she said as she stopped to talk to Janiece Calderon, vice president of the Animal Friendly Organization, which volunteers at shelters and raises money for animal welfare groups.
“Have you heard about the Funny Farm (animal sanctuary in Mays Landing)?” Kesselman asked, and was pleased to learn students had made a donation.
As the wife of President Harvey Kesselman, Lynne, 56, has brought her own set of skills as a leader and teacher to the role of first lady of Stockton.
And if Harvey Kesselman talks about the college as his family, Lynne is its adoptive mom.
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Flax seeds may be small, but they’re versatile.
“She brought candy on Halloween and distributed it in the dorms,” said Jessica Kowal, executive director of development and alumni affairs.
Like her husband, Lynne is a graduate of Stockton. In 1982, she got a bachelor’s degree in business, which she earned in 3½ years while paying her own way.
In 2005, she went back for a master’s degree in instructional technology, giving her one more Stockton degree than her husband, something they joke about, but which thrills the alumni office.
“They are every alumni relations person’s dream,” Kowal said of the couple’s long history with Stockton. “She came in and said, ‘I’m all in, how can I make the biggest impact?’”
Born in Paterson and raised by her grandparents in Sussex County, Kesselman came to Stockton because her grandfather wanted to take a trip to the then relatively new casinos in Atlantic City. They combined the casino trip with a visit to the college. She loved the rural, pinelands campus immediately.
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Area high school students don’t think racism and intolerance will be era…
“There are a lot more students today, but the campus still has that intimate feel,” she said. “Every once in a while, I like to take a walk around the lake like I used to do as a student. I think I appreciate it more now because I’m not in such a rush to get to class.”
She and Harvey met at a conference, where their shared connection to Stockton developed into a relationship. They married in 1983 and have since shared a relationship with Stockton as Harvey, a member of the inaugural class and later an employee, worked his way to the top.
Lynne worked at home as a day trader while their children, Megan and Aaron, were young. After getting her master’s degree, she got a job at Egg Harbor Township High School, where she developed computer science courses such as web design.
In 2008, after being nominated by co-worker Kim DeMaggio, Kesselman received an American Star of Teaching award from the U.S. Department of Education.
DeMaggio, now a technology integration coordinator at Alder Avenue Middle School in EHT, said Kesselman is always thinking about what she can do for students.
Harriet Tubman will be visiting Stockton University’s Kramer Hall in Hammonton Thursday nigh…
“She always wanted to provide them with the tools to be successful in their lives after school,” DeMaggio said. “She connects with students. She just has a spark about her. I miss teaching with her.”
Kesselman planned to retire from teaching when it appeared that her husband would take a job as president of the University of Southern Maine. When instead he was given the opportunity to remain at Stockton as its president, she decided to focus on her role as its first lady.
“There is so much to do,” she said. “I see more alumni coming back and wanting to give back.”
Kesselman’s two primary projects have been the Women’s Leadership Council and expanding computer science awareness. She has been involved with focus groups to decide the role of the council, which she wants to include mentoring, alumni giving and an event targeting women.
She recalls fundraising for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund during a semester in Washington, D.C., while a student at Stockton and said she learned a lot about fundraising from that experience.
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — More than 900 people spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day helping others dur…
As a teacher, she founded a South Jersey chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association and remains its president. She has promoted a coding competition for high school students at Stockton and is helping to promote StockHack, a 24-hour innovation, design and technology competition Feb. 18-19 for high school and undergraduate college students.
She has used her dual roles to make more connections between Stockton and area K-12 computer science teachers. She arranged a trip to Google headquarters in New York for CSTA members.
“She’s very energizing, and she believes in getting you involved right away,” said Michelle Wendt, a technology integrationist who works at Stockton’s Southern Regional Institute and Education Technology Training Center, connecting Stockton with area teachers. “She has her fingers in a lot of pies, but this is her baby.”
DeMaggio said Kesselman in many ways is continuing her role helping students, just doing it from a different perspective.
HAMMONTON — Some 300 ducks are nesting in the third-floor storage room of Town Hall.
While she appears calm compared to her husband’s high-energy personality, staying busy and working hard are family traditions. From helping the Oakcrest High School crew team when their daughter rowed there to traveling to ice hockey tournaments to watch son Aaron play, the Kesselmans set a standard that led both children to Princeton University. Megan now works in finance, and Aaron is in law school.
“I’m always someone who stays busy,” Kesselman said. “I’m not one to sit.”
After noticing a competing team’s fans singing a pep song at a sporting event, she worked with a committee on a competition to write one for Stockton.
She visits the campus at least twice a week. She is well known by the rowers and stopped to say hello at their table while walking across campus.
Stockton rower Leheiddy Tamarez, 22, of Clifton, recognized Kesselman because she’s always at their events.
“There’s my rowers,” Kesselman said, smiling, as she stopped to check on recruiting.
“Oh, we know who she is,” Tamarez said, putting in a light-hearted plug for more money.
Kesselman and her husband both talk about developing the rowing program, especially after the Atlantic City campus opens. They would love to see a regatta or championship in Atlantic City.
Harvey said Lynne’s love of Stockton and its students have made her a highly effective ambassador for the university. With multiple invitations, they will sometimes split events to assure Stockton is represented.
“She knows the college well, and we have both been part of Stockton all our adult lives,” Harvey said. “She can represent me and Stockton at any event. And people do love to work with her because she really is committed to the college. She believes in Stockton.”