ATLANTIC CITY – Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman has announced he will retire as the university’s fifth president at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2023.
“There are no words to accurately express how I feel about my beloved alma mater,” Kesselman said during the Board of Trustees meeting held at the Atlantic City campus. “My time and tenure with Stockton have been nothing short of amazing, exceeding all of my expectations as a career and a community.”
Kesselman is unique in the history of Stockton. As a member of the first class at then Stockton State College in 1971, he continued on to become a faculty member, and has held several mid- and senior level administrative positions, including provost and executive vice president. He began serving as acting president in April 2015. The university’s Board of Trustees named Kesselman president in December 2015.
His career parallels the institution’s growth, from a small college in the Pinelands National Reserve to a world class university with locations in Galloway, Atlantic City, Hammonton, Manahawkin and Woodbine.
“More than seven years ago, I began my presidency with the guiding principle of students first. Together, our dedicated faculty, staff and administrators worked tirelessly with me to deliver on the promise of making a Stockton degree more valuable each and every day,” he said.
Stockton has thrived under his leadership. He shepherded the university through its expansion to Atlantic City and successfully championed equitable funding for public colleges and universities in New Jersey.
Highlights from his presidential tenure include expanding the university’s regional footprint and opening the Stockton Atlantic City campus in 2018, with Phase II currently under construction in the University District; the state designating Stockton an Anchor Institution in Atlantic City; increasing Stockton’s pre-eminence in STEM and health care graduates, supported by the opening of a second Unified Science Center and the John F. Scarpa Health Sciences Center on the Galloway campus; increasing state appropriations to the university by 123% to balance inequities in funding; Expanding Educational Opportunity Fund seats by 50 to include a program at the Atlantic City campus; Moody’s Investor Services revising the university to a “positive” outlook citing Stockton’s strong budgetary policies; forging new pathways to higher education by building partnerships with 12 New Jersey community colleges; guiding Stockton to earn reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education in 2022.
“More than 50 years ago, I made a life-changing decision. A decision to explore something new and different, something with promise and possibility, something I knew would be challenging but also transformative. It has proven to be one of the best decisions of my life,” Kesselman said. “Together, our dedicated faculty, staff and administrators worked tirelessly with me to deliver on the promise of making a Stockton degree more valuable each and every day.”
Under his leadership, the university has received INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2021, and the 2018; Inclusive Excellence Awards from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. Stockton has also earned national recognition as a front-runner in civic learning, community engagement and sustainability, receiving the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Excellence in Innovation Award for Sustainability and Sustainable Development in 2016, for Civic Learning and Community Engagement in 2017 and for Regional and Economic Development in 2021.
Kesselman is regarded for his advocacy for higher education and has served on multiple statewide boards, including as chairman of the New Jersey Presidents Council, chairman of New Jersey Campus Compact, chairman of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, and co-chair of the Student Success Working Group for the New Jersey Strategic Plan for Higher Education.
Raymond Ciccone, chairman of Stockton’s Board of Trustees, thanked Kesselman for his commitment to the university and its 60,000 alumni.
“Stockton would not be the nationally ranked, thriving institution it is today if not for the dedication and hard work of Harvey Kesselman for nearly five decades,” Ciccone said. “He is an extraordinary, strong leader who not only planted himself where he could grow but did the same for this once small college in the Pines.”
Ciccone said the university will initiate a national presidential search in the coming months, and Kesselman will remain at Stockton as President Emeritus and Tenured Professor of Education after the new president is selected.