Stockton College's plans to open an instructional facility in the Manahawkin section of Stafford before the start of the fall semester solidifies its outreach efforts in Ocean County and sets a foundation for the college's future growth in the area, a university official said.
“We have a footprint well beyond Galloway now,” said Stockton provost Harvey Kesselman, noting the college operates The Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage, in Woodbine, and is set to open an instructional site in Hammonton in the fall. “At this point, Ocean County has been a great friend of ours for years. We’re beginning in Manahawkin, but it’s just the first step in the process of determining where we are expanding in the county, although nothing else is concrete yet.”
While Kesselman said Stockton does not intend for the Manahawkin site to offer more than 50 percent of the courses needed for degree fulfillment — which would require accreditation and providing those students with access to all of the college’s resources — he said the college is “not too concerned if it gets to that point,” noting it recently received accreditation for a 10-year term by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Currently, 104 students are enrolled in the six undergraduate courses in business, sociology, science, arts and education being offered at the two-classroom facility in the fall, Kesselman said.
Kesselman said Ocean County College serves as a “primary feeder” for transfer students, so Stockton will tailor its Manahawkin site to transfers by offering a mix of general studies and upper-level courses and, eventually, a transfer orientation course.
According to fall 2011 college enrollment data, Ocean County’s 1,491 students are second only to Atlantic County’s 2,357 students. Though the top Ocean County municipality for Stockton enrollment is Toms River, Kesselman said the Manahawkin site is a better fit for the college, since it will share space with two of its private-sector partners, AtlantiCare and the Rothman Institute.
“We already collaborate with both entities — AtlantiCare’s Mainland division is right on Stockton’s main campus — and they can both provide our students with experience in nursing and physical therapy, which makes this the perfect positive storm for us,” Kesselman said. “Even though we’re not starting off with that, we’re hoping to get to that point to expose students in clinical rotations to different kinds of settings.”
Kesselman said the college also supports a long-term relationship with the county through its Southern Regional Institute and Educational Technology Training Center, which offers professional development courses to teachers and school administrators within 17 Ocean County school districts.
Since Stockton already offers classes at St. Joseph High School near its planned site in Hammonton, Kesselman said the college is looking to form a similar partnership with Southern Regional High School, which is 2 miles away from its Manahawkin site.
“We have a lot of activity going on in Ocean County right now,” Kesselman said. “Right now, it’s not an ‘if,’ it’s a ‘when’ we’ll be expanding.”