Stockton University President Herman Saatkamp today announced his intention to resign after 12 years as the leader of an institution of higher learning that has metamorphosed from the “college in the Pines” to a highly ranked university during his tenure.
Dean Pappas, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, stated, “Dr. Saatkamp has been visionary and an impassioned advocate for Stockton on a local, regional, state and national level. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we accept his resignation and we respect his decision. President Saatkamp has earned the right to return to his scholarship as well as enjoy time with his wife, Dot, and family, and we respect that. At the same time, we will be losing his visionary and transformational leadership, and we will miss that.”
According to President Saatkamp, at 72 years of age he had been working with the Board of Trustees to plan for a smooth and transitional resignation and return to his scholarship for some time.
“I had agreed to remain as President this past year in large part to build the Island Campus and to complete the Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park (SARTP) agreements, said Saatkamp. “I leave the University well-positioned, with an excellent director of SARTP who can complete the agreements and launch the research park. I remain optimistic for the success of the Island Campus in spite of the challenges faced.”
“Few universities have the prospect of building a large campus at low cost in an urban setting that is in great need of stability and economic opportunity,” added Saatkamp. “Stockton’s long-term commitment to the public mission of our university, diversity, and inclusion are part of the reasons for trying to advance higher education in Atlantic City.”
Saatkamp became the fourth president of Stockton in June 2003. Some of the highlights of his tenure include:
• Growth of Divisions of Stockton into full Schools and the establishment of an honors program;
• Community service, a basic tenet of Stockton, was expanded with the creation of a Martin Luther King Day of Service that has approximately 600 volunteers – most of them students – on an annual basis. Freshmen are invited to participate in a Day of Service the first week of classes in September and hundreds choose to join in;
• In 2003, Stockton leased the Carnegie Library Building in Atlantic City for educational programs and centers. In 2007, the building was purchased and continues to flourish;
• The beginning of the masters in criminal justice and doctoral degree in physical therapy 2004;
• In 2006, the first bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism management program was approved;
• In May 2007, the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy was established and, within one year, had an endowment of greater than $1 million. Near the same time a $500,000 gift was received from Leo B. Schoffer and family to name the center after his parents as well as foster the efforts of the Holocaust Resource Center. The Azeez Family Foundation donated an additional $250,000 to the Holocaust Resource Center;
• Since 2003, under President Saatkamp’s leadership, Foundation assets grew from $3.05 million to more than $28.6 million. The first philanthropic campaign in Stockton’s history was completed and more than $25.36 million was raised for scholarships and educational purposes;
• In 2010, the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism was begun with an endowment pledge of $1 million;
• 2010 also saw the first master plan for development of Stockton’s 2,000 acres, which was adopted by the Pinelands Commission, and a sub-lease of the Noyes Museum of Art was accomplished.
Stockton also purchased the Seaview Resort and Golf Club and has since returned the faltering resort to its grandeur and net profitability. Now named Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club, the resort is once again a part of the LPGA tour. During the academic year, parts of the resort house Stockton students and classes for the Hospitality and Tourism Management program, many of whose students have internships and employment with the management company, Dolce. During the summer season, these rooms are used as part of the hotel and have increased its profitability.
• 2011 was another momentous year for Stockton as it celebrated its 40th anniversary. An anonymous donor gave a $1 million gift to fund an endowment for economically disadvantaged students. A $65 million Campus Center opened that has become a focus for student activity and events. In Atlantic City, an agreement was reached to operate Dante Hall for the performing arts and other activities.
Businessman Michael Azeez donated the Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage along with a $5 million endowment for its operating expenses. This was expanded in 2013 with the addition of the Ann Azeez Hall and an additional gift to fund it.
• 2012 saw the addition of an instructional site in Manahawkin. A new academic center, the Higher Education Strategic Information and Governance Center, was established.
• Kramer Hall, an instructional site in Hammonton, was opened in 2013 with the help of a leadership gift from Charles and Lynn Kramer. Stockton also signed an agreement to lead the Aviation Research and Technology Park.
• 2013 also saw the opening of a new Unified Science Center that added more than 66 thousand sq. ft. of teaching and research space. Funding was secured for a 54,000 sq. ft. expansion that will begin later this year.
• In 2014, Stockton took over the “Champions Of Youth” program from the Boys and Girls Club and now runs this highly successful program.
• At the end of 2014, Stockton purchased the Showboat Casino and Hotel for $18.9 million to bring a residential higher education institution to Atlantic City.
According to Mady Deininger, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, “Stockton has grown in an amazing multitude of ways since the arrival in 2003 of Herman Saatkamp. I’m a 1980 graduate and find it almost impossible to remember the Stockton then with the Stockton now. President Saatkamp has been an energetic visionary who has brought Stockton University not just to new levels, but to a whole new universe of achievements, as demonstrated by some impressive ‘benchmarks’ along the way.”
Deininger pointed to just a few examples:
• Growth in the student body headcount from 6,881 in 2003 to 8,570 in this past fall;
• A student body that has increased in diversity and inclusiveness from 18 percent of the student population in 2003 to 21 percent this academic year;
• Scholarships to students have grown from $762,000 in 2003 to more than $10 million last year;
• An overall 5 percent growth in combined SAT scores;
• An institution that was essentially unranked by U.S. News and World Report to one that is consistently in the top tier of masters universities;
• Faculty (full time) has grown by 39 percent from 219 to 304 during this period and the University boasts the highest percentage of tenure and tenure track faculty of any of NJ’s public colleges and universities;
• Designations recognizing Stockton’s “green” emphases and veteran programs.
Ambassador William J. Hughes, a former Congressman from this District and the namesake for the University’s Public Policy Center, said, “Herman Saatkamp has taken Stockton to new plateaus. He has coupled all the benefits of an academic institution with an entrepreneurial spirit and the region has been the beneficiary. We’re going to miss this forward-looking leadership.”
“Stockton has had more than the good fortune of President’s Saatkamp’s leadership all these years,” said Deininger. “We have been equally gifted with the efforts of the First Lady, Dot Saatkamp. She has worked tirelessly for the University and for area community and social organizations. She will be sorely missed.”
The Board of Trustees will now work with President Saatkamp to create an orderly transition and a plan for choosing the next President.