GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Richard Stockton College will apply to the state for university status, but it will likely be months before they can consider ordering new stationery.
The college Board of Trustees approved a resolution at its meeting Wednesday to pursue a chance in status and name to Stockton University. A formal petition will be prepared and sent to the N.J. Secretary of Higher Education, probably by the end of the month or early October, president Herman Saatkamp said after the meeting.
The vote comes after almost two years of research, study and surveys by the faculty, students, and a Pan-College task force. In effect, the college has to prove that it already meets the criteria to be a university before it can apply.
Stockton already has comprehensive university status with the Middle States Committee on Higher Education, which does the accreditation review of the college, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It was during the Middle States re-accreditation process in 2012 that reviewers asked if college officials had considered making the change official.
As part of the petition process, the college will recommend two or three reviewers, typically other college presidents, who will visit the college. Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks will select the reviewer and also submit the petition to the Presidents Council, which is made up of all the college presidents in the state. They will also review the application and make a recommendation back to Hendricks, who will make the final decision.
“It gives us plenty of time to use up all the old stationery,” Saatkamp said, noting they would not expect a decision before next spring or summer.
The decision to apply is about more than just changing the name. It reflects the growth of Stockton both in enrollment and programs, especially graduate level programs.
A Pan-College Task Force on University Status report completed this month said the change would align with Stockton’s current reality, reaffirm its mission of high-quality teaching and liberal arts and sciences, and showcase its accomplishments and expansion. The report has been posted on the Stockton website.
Faculty Senate President Rodger Jackson said after the meeting that while not every faculty member supported the idea, they do believe that the process was thorough. A faculty survey had found that about half of respondents strongly favored the change, and about 20 percent strongly opposed it.
“Everyone had the opportunity to be heard and get a thoughtful response,” Jackson said.
He said the major issues facing Stockton will exist whether the name changes or not, including the size of the college, how many locations it should have, and the role of e-learning vs. in-class learning.
The annual enrollment report by Dean of Enrollment Management John Iacovelli showed Stockton having the largest freshman class ever of 1,186 students, and a total enrollment of 8,570. Iacovelli said an increase in students from North Jersey and the fact that more students are staying in state for college would indicate that enrollment will likely continue to grow.
During an enrollment presentation, Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies Lewis Leitner noted that while Stockton has always prided itself on personal contact with students, graduate students in particular, many of whom are working, want online courses, and there are other colleges that will offer them if Stockton does not.
In other business, the trustees approved a pool of funds equaling an average 3.5 percent raises for managerial staff, who get only merit-based raises. Saatkamp said some might get more than 3.5 percent, and some might get less.
Trustees also awarded a contract to SOSH Architects of Atlantic City for design services for the new combined Atlantic County Central Dispatch Facility and Stockton Police Department Facility, which will be located on 10 acres of land at Stockton. The contract is for 8.75 percent of the estimated construction costs, which have been projected at about $17.2 million. The college will contribute $4.8 million to the project in exchange for full inclusion in all dispatch services in perpetuity. The remaining construction costs will be drawn from the county's capital budget.