- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - There will be no golden parachute for the former president of a southern New Jersey university who oversaw its failed deal to turn a shuttered Atlantic City casino into a satellite campus.

Stockton University approved a separation agreement Wednesday with Herman Saatkamp, who has been on medical leave since April pending retirement.

Saatkamp was president while Stockton bought the former Showboat casino. But competing legal restrictions on what the building can be used for scuttled plans to turn it into a long-sought urban campus in Atlantic City.

His last day with Stockton is Dec. 31. He will be paid $47,500 for unused vacation and sick time, plus $6,600 for six months of health insurance.

Stockton also signed a new 3½-year contract with Harvey Kesselman, who took over for Saatkamp in April. He will make the same $320,850 annual salary as his predecessor.

“I am excited by the opportunity to lead our wonderful university at this pivotal time,” Kesselman said. “Enrollment is growing, and we are expanding our Galloway campus with two new academic buildings and a dramatic new entrance. We also are exploring a public-private partnership that would enable Stockton to expand its presence in Atlantic City and be a major part of its renaissance.”

The ill-fated deal to buy the Showboat for $18 million from Caesars Entertainment in December 2014 played a role in Saatkamp’s departure and Kesselman’s elevation to president from his previous post as provost and executive vice president.

Trump Entertainment Resorts, which owns the Trump Taj Mahal casino next door, is enforcing a 1988 legal covenant among the Showboat, the Taj Mahal and Resorts, mandating that the Showboat not be used for anything other than “a first-class casino hotel.”

The Taj Mahal fears that students under the legal age of 21 will sneak into the casino to gamble and drink, exposing it to costly fines. Trump Entertainment says Stockton knew of the legal restriction when it bought the property. Saatkamp has said he was told the matter had been resolved, but the university has not said who gave that assurance or when it was issued.

Stockton then reached a deal to sell the property to developer Glenn Straub for $26 million, which also fell though. It now has a deal to sell the building to Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein for $23 million by Jan. 15.

The separation agreement reached with Saatkamp provides that he and the university will not bad-mouth each other for at least two years. Saatkamp gives up any right to sue the university, and Stockton said it has no plans to sue Saatkamp.

Stockton hopes soon to announce plans for a new Atlantic City satellite campus on vacant land at the southern end of the city on Albany Avenue where the former Atlantic City High School once stood.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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