🔴 A non-binding survey seeks student input on a geographical name for Stockton University

🔴 “I am 100 percent behind keeping our name as Stockton University,” Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said.

🔴 Consideration of a location-based name goes back to the college's creation in 1969

GALLOWAY — Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman is not in favor of changing the name of the school despite concerns about Richard Stockton's past.

A task force appointed by the Faculty Senate sent a digital survey to Stockton students via the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs seeking their thoughts about a potential location-based name change because Richard Stockton, whom the school is named after, was not only a slave owner but also signed a loyalty oath to the King of England in 1776 after signing the Declaration of Independence. The committee said that was "considered an act of treason by many."

The poll asks if Richard Stockton, given his past, deserves to have a university named after him and the impact of a name change on the school. It also asked for location-based name suggestions. The deadline to complete the survey is April 15.

During an appearance with Harry Hurley on sister Townsquare Media station WPG Friday,  Kesselman explained that the task force was created by the Faculty Senate in 2021 during the school's 50th anniversary. He said it was not a board of trustees or presidential task force and their decisions are non-binding.

"One of the things they've looked at is, should we have a name change meaning more location-based," Kesselman said.

Kesselman told Hurley that if the task force did recommend a name change it would not be implemented.

“I am 100 percent behind keeping our name as Stockton University,” Kesselman told WPG.

Survey sent by a Stockton Faculty Senate Task Force
Survey sent by a Stockton Faculty Senate Task Force (Listener submitted)

A history lesson in Stockton University's name

The idea of a geographical name for the school in Galloway Township goes back to 1969 when planning for the college was underway. Kesselman said there were 11 potential South Jersey-based names on a list for consideration that was cut to four, according to Kesselman.

"The four finalists were Southern New Jersey State College, South Jersey State College, Atlantic State College, Jersey Shore State College. One was Pinelands State College but they were all crossed out. Richard Stockton State College was also crossed out. Our founders wanted South Jersey State College. That's what they recommended back in 1969," Kesselman said during his interview on WPG.

The state Board of Higher Education had the final say in the name and rejected the founder's recommendation because of possible confusion with other colleges and pushed the Richard Stockton name, according to Kesselman.

"The irony is that our Board of Trustees actually then made the resolution up to the higher ed board of Richard F. Stockton State College. And the irony is there is no Richard F. Stockton. So we technically are named after someone that didn't exist," Kesselman told WPG.

The president, who is Stockton's fifth president, likes the school's current name.

"I hope and pray that Stockton University remains Stockton University for as long as there is a Stockton University," Kesselman said.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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