Ceremony Showcases Stockton Manahawkin Expansion

By MARIA SCANDALE | Mar 14, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

In a contemporary and comfortable new lobby/lounge of the expanded Stockton University at Manahawkin, students and a state senator said that not so long ago, they wouldn’t have imagined this facility here at home.

An opening on March 8 unveiled the 8,000-square-foot expansion of the satellite campus at 712 East Bay Avenue, adjacent to the existing site that opened six years ago.

The new space increases health science and other courses here and gives students more room and technology for hands-on learning in the Foundations of Nursing lab and seven physical assessment examining rooms.

Forked River resident Daniel Paganelli, a recent graduate of Stockton University’s 15-month accelerated nursing program, told the crowd that the Manahawkin facility with  “excellent professors” made the distance for traveling to certain classes much less than to the main campus in Galloway, “and the opportunity for a potential job in the area much greater.”

The new site facilitated the expansion of the 15-month Accelerated BSN program and the RN to BSN program.

Guests that day could tour the new lab where adult nursing student Christine MacCotter and assistant professor Stephanie Chung, who holds a doctorate in nursing, demonstrated the mannequins that are interactive aids for practicing medical procedures such as threading IVs and administering injections.

Soon the mannequins will be electronically upgraded like another one that can complain that her chest hurts or she can’t breathe, so that students can respond. The mannequin can simulate lung sounds corresponding to certain conditions. She has a fully functioning “bladder,” and can be made to exclaim if an IV is not inserted correctly. It’s all part of state-of-the-art learning experience in the lab that prepares students before they are sent to clinical rotations at medical facilities.

At an opening ceremony, Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman said the Manahawkin expansion is “part of yet another Stockton milestone ...  It allows us to serve more and to give more and to do more for our students and this community.”

He added, “It’s hard to believe that this fall six years ago we started here – seven courses and 130 students were enrolled. Now look at this absolutely fabulous facility. It is so much more gorgeous in person than what I envisioned it was going to look like.”

Kesselman said the future will see more expansion into Southern Ocean County.

“We value this area ... this is that seed and it’s beginning to blossom. And it’s only the beginning of what 10, 20, 25, 30, 50 years will bring.”

Beach Haven Mayor Nancy Davis, a Stockton University Board of Trustees member and a doctor who is professor emeritus of pathology, said she has long advocated for a greater presence in Southern Ocean County. Now she has no doubt that it will “enrich the lives of so many residents.”

“Providing access to learning is about the most important thing we can give people,” she said. The campus will help “keep our talented young people in this area, and that’s important.”

Adults as well can use the new center to take summer courses and explore new topics. In 2018, offerings will include Science of Forecasting Waves, Baseball History and Literature, Hispanic Literature and Film, Car Culture in America, Beaches, Business Basics and Introduction to Health Sciences.

Excited about the “long-term investment” Stockton is making in this growing region, Davis said, “Stockton’s presence is greatly needed. Stockton is making a difference in Southern Ocean County.”

The advancement here also brought a reminder of the upcoming Gateway Project that Stockton University is undertaking in Atlantic City. It is scheduled to open this autumn.

“This is really what Stockton is all about right now; we’re expanding our reach, we’re expanding our enrollment, so we’re able to do things up here to support the students in this region, and we’re so very proud of that,” said Dr. Lori Vermeulen, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The expansion is located in a space formerly held by Rothman Institute Orthopaedics.

Kesselman thanked those who made the expansion possible, including also Lori Herndon, president and CEO of AtlantiCare, and a Stockton University alumna. Both AtlantiCare and Rothman Institute donated funds for the expansion.

“With her incredible generosity and working very hard with Dr. Susan Davenport, our executive vice president, she was able to come up with the funds to make this happen without costing an additional dime in tuition to our students,” Kesselman said of Herndon.

The idea for the lobby/lounge came from one of the students who responded to a recent survey. Kesselman said the suggestion was that the Manahawkin site would be perfect “if you would just add a student lounge.”

Well equipped with computers as well as a place to have lunch between classes, the lobby/lounge is decorated with paintings from Stockton’s Noyes Museum and a showcase of shorebird and decoy carvings. That is a nod to area history that was noticed by distinguished alumnus Christopher J. Connors, state senator.

“Stockton is going to be a cultural and economic boon to our area and we’re so grateful,” said Connors, who remarked that his business degree from then-Stockton state college in 1978 “was not as valuable as it is today.”

Kesselman had said that “today is more than just a beautiful new facility – beyond the bricks and mortar, we are about educating people – that’s the most important thing; that is what we do. It’s about opportunity for all of our students, and opportunity for this wonderful community. At Stockton, we do want to provide our students with only the best preparation.”

Paganelli had praise for the extent that professors “went above and beyond” to give personalized attention and support.

“Every day our professors came to work eager to teach us about their craft and what it means to be a hardworking, logical and professional nurse. There was not a semester that they didn’t want us to be better and improve on the already successful program.”

“Every day they greeted us with ‘good morning,’ and, ‘how was your weekend?’, he said, to applause from the other students there. “For anything we needed, they always responded swiftly and professionally, like helping us print massive amounts of notes ... and little things like providing us with pots of coffee and little snacks on test days. They always rooted us on.

“These professionals not only provided us with knowledge and ability to pass our boards effortlessly,” he said, “but now we can take care of and save a person’s life, which is a heavy burden to bear but one we are now prepared for.”

From another angle, MacCotter is a nontraditional student, a former English professor who decided to enter the nursing field. She was glad to find quality education close to home.

“This program really caters to making sure nontraditional students are included as well,” she said, “which is important; there is such a growing population in Ocean County. It would have been a rare thing just a few years ago to be in Barnegat Light and get a state-of-the-art education in Manahawkin.”

For more information on courses offered at Stockton at Manahawkin, go to Stockton.edu/Manahawkin. To learn more about nursing programs at Stockton, go to Stockton.edu/health-sciences.









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