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Stockton Reacts to Not Being Named to Host Debate

The Galloway-based school submitted an application to be one of four colleges to host a presidential or vice presidential debate in 2012.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced the four schools selected to host three presidential and one vice presidential debates during the 2012 election on Monday, Oct. 31, and the was not among the schools selected, according to the commission's website.

The University of Denver in Colorado, Hofstra University in New York and Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL, will host presidential debates on Oct. 3, 16 and 22, 2012, respectively.

Centre College in Danville, KY, will host the vice presidential debate on Oct. 11, 2012. Washington University in St. Louis, MO, will serve as a backup site. Dominican University has been asked to lead an international project, to be announced early next year.

"Naturally, we are disappointed not to have been chosen to host one of next year’s presidential debates," Stockton President Herman J. Saatkamp said in a statement released Tuesday morning. "However, we believe the debates are vitally important to the democratic processes in the United States and are fully supportive of the Commission on Presidential Debates’ work and choices.

"Scores of people within Stockton worked on our application and we have an overwhelming learning from this experience: we have outstanding facilities in a distinctively picturesque environment and wonderful location. NJ residents and our College faculty, students, staff, and friends take great pride in Stockton and the application process gave us reason to take stock of this."

Stockton earlier this year to host a debate for the first time in its history. Of the four colleges selected to host debates, only the University of Denver has never hosted a debate.

Stockton announced it had submitted a bid to host a presidential or vice presidential debate during the 2012 election in March. The college had been hoping to stage the debate at the "Big Blue" gymnasium on campus.

It had cited as positives being the home of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, as well as its close proximity to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York City and Atlantic City International Airport, located in Egg Harbor Township.

Saatkamp also referenced the college's infrastructure, location to the largest and fourth-largest media locations in the country and event hosting experience as assets to the college's bid.

Stockton had recently purchased the , and stressed its ability to host large conferences as an asset.

A major push 

Stockton received letters of support from Galloway Mayor Keith Hartman; Gov. Chris Christie; former congressman and ambassador to Panama William J. Hughes; U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez; U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo; State Senator James Whelan; Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina; County Executive Dennis Levinson; Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Chairman James Kehoe; South Jersey Transportation Authority Executive Director Bart Mueller; Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey President and CEO Debra Di Lorenzo; Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce President Joseph Kelly; and the President of the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey Rita Marie Fulginiti.

The Debate Commission sent a to the college to evaluate its ability to host a debate in the spring, and Saatkamp visited in June to reaffirm the college's commitment to hosting a debate.

A grassroots effort to promote Stockton's ability to host a debate was also launched by local businessman Jim Doorn briefly after the college submitted its bid.

One of nationally to submit a bid, Stockton met all standards to host a debate, including:

  • the CPD mandates a debate hall must be at least 17,000 square feet; Stockton’s Multi-Purpose Recreation Center, nicknamed “Big Blue,” is 39,000 square feet;
  • a media filing center close to the debate hall for up to 30 TV remote trucks, trailers and or/satellite trucks allows for a media tent to act as a supplement, which Stockton can provide;
  • availability of approximately 3,000 hotel rooms for the event, which Stockton previously stated it can provide, via the Seaview Resort and Atlantic City hotel and casinos;
  • host sites must be located near adequate air and ground transportation networks, and Stockton is located eight miles from an FAA airport, Atlantic City International; and
  • the host must guarantee complete city services, including public safety personnel. Stockton has the support of a host of public officials, including Mayor Keith Hartman, as well as the support of both the Stockton College and Galloway Township Police Departments.

Winner profiles

No reason was given on the commission's website as to why it selected the four schools to host the debates.

The University of Denver will kick off the debates on Oct. 3, 2012. The school's website describes the university as "the oldest independent university in the Rocky Mountain region."

It boasts about 11,600 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs, according to the site, which also states, "the Carnegie Foundation classifies DU as a doctoral/research University with high research activity."

Centre College, which will host the vice presidential debate, describes itself on its website as "a top-50 liberal arts college that attracts bright, highly motivated students from around the country. It’s the kind of school that provides extras (leadership training, real-world preparation for career success, a global perspective) that cause our students to lead the nation in loyalty. After graduation they give financial support at a rate higher than those of any other college or university."

Hofstra hosts the presidential debate on Oct. 16, 2012, and was the only school chosen on the east coast. The school has about 140 undergraduate and 150 graduate programs, according to the school's website.

Lynn University will host the final debate, on Oct. 22, 2012. On its website, the school states its mission as "the same mission that has defined the institution through its first 46 years and that will continue to define it in the future. Our mission is to provide the education, support, and environment that enable individual students to realize their full potential and to prepare for success in the world."

Washington University in St. Louis, MO, was selected as the alternate. The school's website describes the school's purpose as "the promotion of learning — learning by students and by faculty. Teaching, the transmission of knowledge, is central to our mission, as is research, the creation of new knowledge."

Stockton is known as the "green college" of New Jersey. It has 8,111 total students, including 7,243 undergraduates and 888 graduate students. It is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

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