On Friday, Nov. 16, as part of the Vision 2028 Leadership Summit, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges presented the first statewide Community College Distinguished Alumnus Award to Salem Community College Alumnus Paul J. Stankard.
The Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented to a New Jersey community college graduate who has made significant contributions in his or her profession and community that have brought honor to New Jersey’s community colleges and the State of New Jersey.
Stankard was recognized for his unparalleled contributions to the field of glass art and his alma mater.
In 1961, Stankard enrolled in the scientific glassblowing program at Salem Community College’s predecessor, Salem County Vocational Technical Institute. After graduating with a degree in scientific glassblowing, he spent 10 years in industry, where he became a master of fabricating complex instruments. In 1969, Paul started experimenting with producing glass paperweights in his garage while working in the industry to support his growing family.
It was when Stankard displayed his early paperweights at a craft exhibit on the Atlantic City boardwalk that Reese Palley, an internationally respected art dealer, saw his work and sponsored Stankard financially to move full-time into making glass art.
Over his 45-year artistic journey, Stankard has become an internationally acclaimed artist, pioneer in the studio glass movement, and is considered throughout the world as the father of modern glass art paperweights. His work is represented in more than 60 museums around the world, including The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Louvre in Paris; and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
He has received two honorary doctorate degrees, one honorary associate degree and many awards within the glass community, most recently the Masters of the Medium Award from Smithsonian's The James Renwick Alliance and Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
He is an Artist-in-Residence and Honorary Professor at Salem Community College.
In 2001, Stankard founded Salem Community College’s International Flameworking Conference (IFC). The IFC celebrates excellence in flameworking by exposing SCC students and conference attendees to many of the world’s leading glass artists using the flameworking process. Stankard became chair emeritus following the 18th annual IFC.
The award, a glass acorn atop a metal base, was designed and created through a partnership between Salem Community College and Camden County College. Salem Community College has one of the most innovative glass programs in the country and Camden County College has been a leader in New Jersey in training and educating students to work in the metal fabrication and advanced manufacturing industries. The award embodies the commitment of New Jersey’s community colleges to creativity, knowledge, innovation, and collaboration.
The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is the state association representing New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the Council is a resource that strengthens and supports the state’s 19 community colleges.
SCC gratefully acknowledges Jacob C. Farbman, Ed.D., APR, of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges for writing this article.
Caption: The New Jersey Council of County Colleges presented the first statewide Community College Distinguished Alumnus Award to Salem Community College Alumnus Paul J. Stankard. Pictured from left: NJCCC President Aaron Fichtner, Ph.D.; NJCCC Chair Helen Albright; Paul Stankard; SCC Board Chair Dorothy Hall; and SCC President Michael Gorman, Ed.D.