When I stroll along Stockton's Independence Walk and gaze at the two-story-high replica of our nation's Declaration of Independence that sports Richard Stockton's name, I begin to imagine what he would see as he looked at this college named after him nearly 200 years after the Declaration's signing. Certainly he would be proud that his namesake higher education institution, celebrating its 40th year of teaching this fall, would have the moniker of "New Jersey's Distinctive Public College."

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey is a remarkably beautiful campus located on 2,000 acres in the Pinelands National Reserve with lakes and pathways resembling a national park. New to the campus is our 154,000-square-foot Campus Center as well as the construction of a 66,000-square-foot Unified Science Center designed to accommodate math and science students. Richard Stockton would be awed to know that today's Stockton produces about 25 percent of the math and science graduates among New Jersey's public state colleges and universities.

Our growth, outreach and partnerships enhance our students' education and the region's economic development. Throughout our region we are present through teaching sites in Atlantic City with our Carnegie Center, in Hammonton where we are beginning the remodeling of a facility that will be a cornerstone of Hammonton's renaissance, and in Woodbine. The Seaview Resort provides teaching internships and opportunities for our students, including collaboration with Cornell University's Hotel Administration Program and, of course, the community. Our dedication to the arts is highlighted by our partnership with the Noyes Museum, the Performing Arts Center, and our new two-story art gallery on our campus. We are a cornerstone of Atlantic City's new arts district with our Dante Hall Theater of the Arts.

Although a young college, we are among the nation's highest-ranked master's universities with more than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students and with more than 40,000 alumni. Our educational opportunities focus on the arts, sciences and the professions. While Stockton's focus will remain strong on undergraduate education, we also meet the students' and area's needs with a growing repertoire of graduate programs. In fact, this college has the highest percentage of tenure-track faculty among the nine New Jersey state institutions of higher education. Our faculty members are dedicated to student growth and development in a college setting that feels more like a major private university but with the cultural and economic advantages of a public college.

Today this is a college not content with its first 40 years of teaching excellence. We are committed to a strategy for 2020 that emphasizes learning, engagement, global perspective, and sustainability. With all of this, we recognize that the first 40 years could only have happened - and the next decades only will happen - because of all of you. The support we receive from the area's businesses and community leaders is essential to our success and our flourishing. We are strong enough to reciprocate through our academic and continuing education programs and as one of the principal economic drivers in our region. We pride ourselves on the nearly 19,000 volunteer hours our faculty, staff and students commit every year to numerous community partnerships, service-learning activities, and days of service.

We know that over the next 40 years our educational prowess and ties with all of our constituencies will stay strong and special. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, community, friends, donors: You make the difference.

Herman J. Saatkamp Jr. is president of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.