Harvey Kesselman, who occupies a unique spot in the history of Stockton University, announced Wednesday that he will be retiring as president of the school at the end of the next fiscal year, June 30, 2023.
Kesselman made the announcement during a meeting of the board of trustees at Stockton’s Atlantic City campus. The school, which has its main campus in Galloway Township, will begin a nationwide search for his replacement in the coming months.
It will be difficult to imagine Stockton University without Kesselman.
Kesselman has been a lifelong figure at the school, with a career that parallels the institution’s growth, from a small college in the Pinelands National Reserve to a top-notch university that is a force in South Jersey with locations in Galloway, Atlantic City, Hammonton, Manahawkin and Woodbine.
Kesselman was a member of the first class at then-Stockton State College in 1971 — and continued on to become a faculty member before holding several mid- and senior-level administrative positions, including provost and executive vice president. He began serving as acting president in April 2015 before being named president in December 2015.
“There are no words to accurately express how I feel about my beloved alma mater,” he said. “My time and tenure with Stockton have been nothing short of amazing, exceeding all of my expectations as a career and a community.”
Stockton has thrived under Kesselman’s leadership. He led 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;
- Helping Stockton gain designation by the state as an Anchor Institution in Atlantic City;
- Increasing Stockton’s preeminence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics 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;
- Having Moody’s Investor Services revise 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.
Raymond Ciccone, chair 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.”
Kesselman said it has been a labor of love.
“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,” he said. “It has proven to be one of the best decisions of my life.”
Kesselman said his time as president was guided by one simple idea: Put students first.
“More than seven years ago, I began my presidency with the guiding principle of students first,” he 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.”
Kesselman is regarded for his advocacy for higher education and has served on multiple statewide boards, including as chair of the New Jersey Presidents Council, chair of New Jersey Campus Compact, chair 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.
Ciccone said Kesselman will remain at Stockton as president emeritus and tenured professor of education after the new president is selected.