No lucrative exit deal is in the cards for a southern New Jersey university’s former president who failed in his attempts to transform a shutdown Atlantic casino into a satellite campus.
On Wednesday a separation agreement was approved by Stockton University with Herman Saatkamp. Under the terms of the agreement the university and Saatkamp will refrain from criticizing the other for at least two years. In addition, the Stockton’s former president cannot sue the university. There are no plans to sue Saatkamp, according to Stockton.
Saatkamp’s retirement has been pending and he has been on medical leave since April. He maintained his position as president of the university during the purchase of the former Showboat casino. However, his long-sought plan to turn the property into an island campus and privately run hotel on the Jersey shore was abandoned due to legal restrictions regarding the use of the building. December 31 will be Saatkamp’s last day with Stockton. He will receive $6,600 for six months of health insurance and $47,500 for vacation time and sick time that was not used.
In April, when Saatkamp began his medical leave, Stockton penned a new three-and-a-half year contract with Harvey Kesselman who took over the university presidency at that time. His salary will be the same $320,850 as his predecessor’s, according to the Associated Press.
Playing a significant role in Saatkamp’s departure from the university was the doomed $18 million deal to purchase the former Showboat from its owner, Caesars Entertainment, in December 2014. It also was a catalyst for Kesselman’s rise from his previous post as executive vice president and provost to president.
A deed restriction placed on the property by Caesars directly conflicts with a 1988 land covenant between the Trump Taj Mahal and Resorts and the Showboat that mandates that the property can only be used as a first-class casino and hotel. That legal covenant is being enforced by the building’s owner, Trump Entertainment Resorts. The neighboring Taj Mahal was fearful that underage students would be sneaking into the casino to drink and gamble, which would expose it to costly fines. According to Trump Entertainment, Stockton and its president were aware of the legal restrictions when it purchased the property. Saatkamp on the other hand claims that he was informed that the matter had been resolved. The university however, has yet to say wo whom, or when the assurance was given.
Then a deal was reached for developer Glenn Straub to purchase the property for $26 million, but that was also unsuccessful. Currently, Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein has a deal with Stockton to purchase the building by January 15 for $23 million.
The university hopes that it will soon be able to announce plans for a satellite campus in Atlantic City on vacant land at is southern end where the former Atlantic City High School once was.