The World Famous Atlantic City Boardwalk welcomed dignitaries and new neighbors Thursday, Sept. 20 as Stockton University and ACDevco held a ribbon cutting attended by hundreds of supporters, well-wishers and students.
The $178.3 million oceanfront campus was funded in part with bonds issued by the Atlantic County Improvement Authority, a $22 million grant from the NJ Higher Education Capital Improvement fund and $18 million from the university.
Partners in the development of the Boardwalk campus include, ACDevco, the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Atlantic County Improvement Authority, City of Atlantic City, Elkus Manfredi Architects, Joseph Jingoli & Son, NJ Educational Facilities Authority, NJ Economic Development Authority, SOSH Architects and South Jersey Industries.
The state-of-the-art Boardwalk campus includes a 22,000-square-foot residential complex, housing 530 students in 145 apartments with ocean views, and a 56,000-square-foot academic center offering 115 courses in 14 classroom. It has a 879-vechile parking garage, which it will share with South Jersey Industries, which is building its headquarters on the Boardwalk next door to the university.
The theme for numerous speeches from university President Harvey Kesselman, state legislators, county and local representatives and developers at ACDevco was cooperation, bipartisanship and vision for the future of Atlantic City, which can now proudly say is a “college town.”
Two former legislators – State Senator Willliam Gormley and the late Senator and Atlantic City Mayor Jim Whelan were honored during the ceremony for their vision and encouragement in creating the university campus.
Kessleman said the university provides a new wave of opportunity, not only for students, but also for the community, which will benefit from additional economic development and practical student internships.
The university has been recognized by the state as an Anchor Institution, which will contribute to the local and regional economy, and is surrounded by a University District, which will identify the campus amidst the glitz of the casino industry.
The milestone brings the university full circle to where it began in 1971 with 1,000 students attending classes at the aging Mayflower Hotel, several blocks north of the new campus on Albany Avenue.
Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said the campus project was “the greatest project Atlantic City has had going back to the creation of the Boardwalk.
Kesselman said the university operates by its guiding principal – “to put students first,” he said.
“It strengthens our mission to provide an environment for excellence for our students to live, learn and lead in this ever-changing global society.”
The university provides new opportunities for young people through the Educational Opportunity Act, which provides scholarships for underprivileged students.
NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney said the university’s expansion from the Pinelands campus to the largest city in Atlantic County would encourage high school students to seek advanced degrees in their own state.
The university also recently announced that it authorized a purchase agreement with TJM Properties for the former Atlantic Club casino hotel building a few blocks away for an undisclosed sum. There are no immediate plans for construction on the land, but several speakers called for the building to be razed “today” to provide additional educational opportunity.
“The true legacy of Stockton has yet to be realized,” ACDevco President Christopher Paladino said. “We are just getting started.”