RICHARD STOCKTON UNIVERSITY OF NJ (visited 7/30/13)
John Iacovelli, the Dean of Enrollment Management, welcomed us to campus and spoke extensively about the growth the college, both the physical plant and enrollment. The freshman class is now about 200 students larger than even a few years ago. They have a new “Academic Spine” building (a long building with wings coming off of it which house different departments) and a new Unified Science Center which was getting the finishing touches put on it when we toured; although there was still a lot of last-minute construction, painting, and set-up to finish, the place was beautiful with 9 labs, 12 research spaces, offices, and conference rooms. They place a big emphasis on the sciences here; 25% of science majors from the 8 public colleges in NJ graduate from here. The Health Sciences are strong with competitive PT and OT programs, and they’re a year away from Physician’s Assistant program (the first class will come in next year) in conjunction with Philadelphia University. They also have strong Marine Science, Environmental Science, and a field station. However, they are a comprehensive institution; since 2/3 of students nationwide change their major at least once before getting a Bachelor’s, Stockton is ready and able to help guide students and to provide options in finding an appropriate major.
Their new Campus Center opened in 2010. The first floor is spacious and open with fireplaces, artwork, and comfortable seating areas and charging stations everywhere. The Student Center side, aka the “Fun Side,” has lounges, a game room (where all the games are free, including old-school style game tables with pac-man and other games) and more. A fast-food court with Johnny Rockets-to-go, Chik-fil-A, subs, pizza, and more has seating for 400 students in the basement. The second floor has all the Student Activities offices, including lockers and small offices for each club. Large-scale programing doesn’t just run evening or weekend activities because they want the commuter students to be included.
Stockton brought in 1000 first-year students last year, 255 of whom self-reported as minority. However, they have almost NO out-of-state students! I heard different people say they had anywhere from 1-4% of their students come from outside of NJ. They are one of two schools in the state that froze tuition last year, and it also has one of the best merit-based scholarship systems in the state. The website lists very clear criteria for 3 of the 4 scholarships: if students hit the criteria, they get the scholarship. The last scholarship, the Stockton Scholar, has some wiggle-room in awarding it and is based on a more holistic review.
Much of the campus and surrounding areas is wooded and there is a lot of room for growth. The campus sits on about 1600 acres which includes two lakes and two hospitals. One of the lakes, Lake Fred, has a 1 mile trail around it linking the main campus to 3 housing units on the far side. Housing 1 has suites for sophomores. Housing 4 is also comprised of suites which are “more homey” according to the tour guide (and students do not need to be on a meal plan if they live here). Housing 5 has the newest buildings with single rooms and a kitchenette. There’s not a full kitchen so students need a meal plan. Housing is guaranteed for the first 2 years, and most buildings are coed by floor. 60% of freshmen live on campus. I was NOT impressed with the dorm they took us into: it smelled moldy and did not feel clean. The rooms were so small that the beds had to be bunked; there was not room to have them separated.
However, they’ve recently added 200 beds to their housing options with the purchase of the Seaview Hotel and Resort a couple miles away from the main campus. Partly because of this addition, their Hospitality and Tourism Management program is huge. The resort includes a golf course, and students get hands-on experience with several aspects of the tourism sector, including gambling because of their proximity to Atlantic City. Cornell University has partnered with Stockton since the Cornell students don’t have access to the gambling industry in NY. Cornell students can spend a semester studying at Stockton; Stockton students, in exchange, can earn direct entry into the Masters Program at Cornell if they meet certain standards. Students can also opt to live in the Living Learning Community housed in one wing of the hotel; they eat at the hotel, have access to the pool, and have other perks related to being there; the down-side is that they are removed from the convenience of all the activities on the main campus (although they certainly take advantage of these things; they just have to commute over).
Despite the wooded feel, this is not an isolated community. The town has a lot to do, and they’re right near the ocean (and also have some campus-owned, off-campus housing right on the beach!). They do the NSSE and CLE “Cultural Assessment” to get feedback from students and have earned high marks on both. There’s a NJ transit stop on campus with buses to Atlantic City, NY, and Philadelphia. Students can have cars on campus. Parking is free, and they’re planning a new parking garage. There are solar panels over the parking spots. There are 18 DIII sports including a new women’s lacrosse program, and they have a hockey rink on campus. Several teams have won championships.