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South Jersey

Monday, March 12, 2001

Program director hopes to attract funds, visitors

To volunteer to restore the USS New Jersey:
Contact the Home Port Alliance at 856-966-1652.
Read previous stories about the battleship.
Courier-Post Staff

John Shaw has what may be the most important job for the USS New Jersey.

He is developing programs to attract visitors and find private revenue sources to keep the historic ship financially afloat once it opens as a museum and memorial.

Shaw, 50, of Cherry Hill, has been named the first director of programs and education for the ship museum, scheduled to open Sept. 2 at a new pier on the Delaware River near the New Jersey State Aquarium and E-Centre.

Shaw works for the Center for Management and Entrepreneurship at the Rutgers University School of Business in Camden, and is assigned to the battleship project to develop a business plan and educational program.

The Home Port Alliance - the nonprofit group the Navy awarded the warship to - has a contract with Rutgers for around $85,000, which includes Shaw's salary and other services.

"It is a neat challenge because part of the plan here is to develop a visitation program that will make this a serious memorial, but at the same time an attraction that can be a destination for families, companies and youth," said Shaw, who was raised in Pitman and Glassboro. "We know there will be initial interest, but we must develop an association with the whole Camden Waterfront. We want to share in marketing costs with other attractions and develop cross-curricular educational materials with them."

He said he will develop a plan to generate revenue through admissions, special programming and events, as well as separate fund-raising in order for the ship to become self-sustaining and not dependent on public money.

The USS New Jersey is one of the most highly decorated ships in Navy history, with 15 battle stars garnered in three major wars - World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

The 887-foot-long Iowa-class ship - the largest class of U.S. battleship - was built at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard a few miles downriver from Camden.

Shaw has already visited the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City and plans to visit others to see what programs they have instituted to attract revenue from visitors and special events.

"I know there are things I can learn from other museums," he said, adding that some of the information has already been gathered and included in the plan the Home Port Alliance submitted to the Navy to get the ship.

"The idea is to keep it affordable so families can bring their children and grandchildren," he said.

Shaw said Kean University in Union, Hudson County, and the state battleship commission are also developing a statewide curriculum about the New Jersey that will be taught in schools by 2002.

Shaw's skills include not only business management, but also education, video production, theater and planning. His voice can be heard on a Friday morning magazine program that he also produces on PAX Channel 61.

"It is a celebration of the church today. We interview people you meet in everyday life that have a faith basis for what drives them," said Shaw, a lay leader at Haddonfield United Methodist Church.

Retired Rear Admiral Thomas Seigenthaler, the alliance's executive director, said the group is fortunate to have the support of Rutgers in filling the position.

"With a hand-selected professional assigned to our project, we add critical business expertise to our ability to tell the story of the USS New Jersey in the most effective and professional manner," Seigenthaler said.

"This is a great story, and the fact that the ship is in Camden is magnificent," Shaw said. "When I learned we got it, I said, `Wow!' I think it can make some difference. I think we are on the verge of a Waterfront revival that will rival Baltimore's."

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