Stockton issues 140 graduate studies degrees

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Stockton President Herman J. Saatkamp Jr. at Friday’s commencement. (Submitted by Richard Stockton College) Stockton President Herman J. Saatkamp Jr. at Friday’s commencement. (Submitted by Richard Stockton College)

Richard Stockton College conferred 140 master’s and doctoral degrees in the college’s growing graduate studies program Friday, May 10.

Stockton President Herman J. Saatkamp Jr. told a gathering of graduates, family and friends that this was only the second graduate commencement ceremony in the college’s history.

“We have come a long way, and the growth and prestige of our graduate programs have come a long way since their beginning,” Saatkamp said. “Graduate education at Stockton began when the state of New Jersey approved our first master’s degree program, the master of physical therapy, in 1994. In 1999, we awarded our first master’s degrees in business administration, physical therapy and nursing.” 

In 2000, Stockton graduated the nation’s first master of arts in Holocaust and genocide studies students he said. 

“Since then, our graduate degree programs have flourished, and in April of 2006, our first doctoral program was approved, the doctor of physical therapy,” Saatkamp said. “We now have 14 graduate degree programs, serving over 800 students.”

John G. Emge, executive director of the Atlantic and Cape May Counties United Way of Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey, was the keynote speaker.

Emge also serves on advisory boards of the Stockton Center on Successful Aging and the Stockton Center for Community Engagement.

Emge told the graduates that his message could be expressed in two words: “Get engaged.” He said he didn’t mean in the romantic sense, but “in your community, to help others improve the quality of life for all.”

He said a big inspiration in his life was his father, who was “courteous, considerate and almost chivalrous” to everyone he met. “He was engaged,” he said.

Emge said his education at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia provided the motto: “Let Your Light Shine,” which is what Stockton students did this spring, he said, when they helped 413 people with their income taxes under a Stockton program.

The United Way, where he is starting his 30th year of service, has developed its own motto for its engagement strategy, he said: “Live United.”

“There’s a debt to repay in your life,” Emge said, and the way to do it combines the influences of the Jesuits and United Way: “Give of yourself. Live United. Let your light shine.”

Stockton Trustee Madeleine Deininger, Class of 1980, awarded Emge the college’s Distinguished Service Award.

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