BY CLYDE HUGHES, AC JosepH Media
ATLANTIC CITY â€“ Stockton University’s media unveiling of its Atlantic City campus Tuesday (Aug. 28) marked another turning point not only in the growth of the university, but for the campus’s chief operating officer Brian Jackson.
While Stockton president Harvey Kesselman gave all of the official statements to the media to open the campus to the news media, Jackson, the highest-ranking African-American on Stockton’s campus, quietly stood by and helped lead a tour group through the campus.
For the past two years, Jackson and his team helped turn the former site of Atlantic City High School into a state-of-the-art campus where Stockton is planning to grow its footprint for years to come. The first classes will be taught on the campus that extends from the city’s famed Boardwalk to Ventnor Avenue after Labor Day.
With the recent announcement that Stockton plans to purchase the former Atlantic Club/Golden Nugget Casino and its beachfront property nearby, further expansion could be in the near future.
“We have an incredible team who have been working on this project for two years,” Jackson told Front Runner New Jersey Tuesday. “It’s been very rewarding and it’s been exciting to be a part of something new. This is one to be one of the components that will change the narrative of Atlantic City.
“Having (the Atlantic Club/Golden Nugget) property so close to our new campus lends itself to incredible opportunity for future growth. We are already talking about what the Stockton campus will look like some five years, 10 years ago and 20 years down the road. We will eventually max out on that campus (in Galloway). We see Atlantic City as incredible potential growth,” he added.
Jackson, who was recruited the work at the university by late president Vera King Farris, has never left, serving as the chief of staff to the president and assistant secretary to the Stockton board of trustees from 1998-2017. He said he is grateful for mentors like Farris, the first African-American female president of a New Jersey public college and one of the first in the nation, and others.
“I always believed that Stockton was a place where you can plant yourself and grow,” said Jackson, a Baltimore native who have made himself part of Atlantic City community volunteering for numerous boards and organizations. “That’s been our mantra for our students. There’s such opportunity here. It’s great to be a part of something that is growing and constantly evolving.
“I’ve had really some really good role models since I’ve been here. My parents both worked at universities and I worked with an African-American male who took me under his wings. They were all willing to share with me and teach me; and I was open to those lessons. Hopefully I can share those lessons who are younger than me,” he added.
A member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Jackson has served on the Family Service Association board of directors and the Seashore Gardens Living Center Foundation board. He also has been a member of the United Way of Atlantic County board of Directors for the last 20 years, serving as chair from 2010-2012.
He was chair of the Community Initiatives Committee for seven years, that oversaw the collaboration of programs like Success by Six, Women’s Leadership Initiative, The Volunteer Center, and the Community Needs Assessment. In 2002, he helped found The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, with locations in Atlantic City and Newtonville.
Jackson served as the museum’s vice chair of its board of directors for 15 years and has co-chaired Stockton University’s Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, the largest gathering of community volunteers in Southern New Jersey, since 2004.
On May 2017, Jackson received the Black Leadership in Higher Education Community Service Award from 101 Women Plus, Inc. at its 34th Annual Black Leadership & Scholarship Gala and was given the Labov Bernstein Community Service Award by the Seashore Gardens Foundation at its Annual Gala in August 2017.
Those were just two of the many awards Jackson has accumulated for his years of community service in the Atlantic City area outside of Stockton. In 2016 he was inducted into the Order of Omega Society which honors leadership of those affiliated with Greek Fraternities and Sororities.
Jackson and his husband and partner of 15 years, Michael Olivieri-Baker, owned and operated Itâ€™s A Doggie Dog World, LLC, from 2008-2014, an upscale pet boutique that supported a number of community based charitable organizations including through the years.
As students adjust to their new digs along the Atlantic City beach, they can be assured that they have an advocate on and off campus with Jackson.
Feature photo: Brian Jackson (right) stands with Haley Baum, assistant dean of students, Stockton University Atlantic City. Photo by Meredith Winner, CEO, Mer-Made Photography.
Second photo: Courtesy of Stockton University.