Stockton University Removes Bust of Namesake, Signer of Declaration of Independence

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Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey, announced its decision this week to remove a bust of its namesake, Richard Stockton, from the campus library.

A bust of Richard Stockon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was temporarily removed from the campus library at Stockton University last week after concerns were raised over Stockton’s slave owner past.

In a message to the campus community, Stockton Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lori Vermeulen explained that the bust was removed so it could be transferred to an environment in which it can be supplemented with a plaque that explains its historical context.

Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman has asked the administration to establish a committee dedicated to exploring Richard Stockton’s life. The information gathered via the committee will be put towards a Richard Stockton exhibit on campus that will display the bust and other historical items from his life.

“We are hopeful that through the development of the Richard Stockton Exhibit we will demonstrate that difficult issues can be dealt with in a way that strengthens and unites us,” Kesselman said in a statement to the Stockton community.

Some students are questioning the removal of the bust, arguing that its presence was not a point of contention amongst the Stockton University community. “I really never heard anyone make a comment or complaint about Richard Stockton. I do know he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and otherwise not much is known about him. But I think removing the bust is an overreaction,” argued Dylan Perry, a senior at Stockton.

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