For Immediate Release                      Contact:   Gail Towns              or           Tara Strickland
                                                                                   732.987.2266                          732.987.2291


History, Heroes and the Age of Extravagance

McAuley Institute Course at GCU Examines Life in the Gilded Age

Lakewood, N.J., Mar. 31, 2010—Shameful marriage woes, shocking business scandals, and excessive celebrity lifestyles aren’t just the makings of modern-day reality TV shows or grocery store tabloids. It’s also 20th-century history—the stuff of real life for the heirs of railroad tycoon Jay Gould and the wealthy class that thrived during the Gilded Age.

The era that fueled extraordinary excess among America’s wealthiest citizens and the history of the legendary family behind the Georgian Court estate are the focus of The Goulds and the Gilded Age, the latest offering from the McAuley Institute for Lifelong Learning at Georgian Court University.

The class, slated for Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to noon from April 16 to May 14, is one of several courses scheduled this spring through the institute, a program tailored for participants ages 50 and over who enjoy college-level learning. Registration is $120 per person and open only to members of the McAuley Institute. Participants will meet on GCU’s Lakewood campus in the historic 1897 Mansion, once the lavish home of George Jay Gould, his wife Edith, and their seven children.

“We are fascinated by glimpses into the lives of the rich and famous, and in America's Gilded Age, the rich lived more opulently, played more intensely, and managed their affairs more ruthlessly than at any other period,” says Robin Gower, Ph.D., J.D., the GCU professor of history leading the five-week course.

“Their business deals were as creative, manipulative, and dishonest as today's credit default swaps—and just as profitable for their creators,” she says, adding that the Gilded Age, a term taken from the title of an 1873 coauthored Mark Twain novel that satirized dishonesty, fraud, and materialism after the Civil War, remains captivating.

“At Georgian Court, we live among relics of that age—with memories of beauty and grace as well as sumptuary excess,” says Dr. Gower. The class will cover a range of topics, including the legendary personalities—speculators, tycoons, opportunists, financiers, and businessmen—who helped shape the Gilded Era, and the impact of inventors, women, and immigrants.

The McAuley Institute for Lifelong Learning, which launched in the fall of 2009, continues to attract area residents interested in non-credit courses taught by experienced professors. An annual membership fee of $25 opens the door to thought-provoking topics for members who take classes, enjoy select meet-and-greet events with headline speakers and entertainers appearing at GCU, and attend two social networking events each year.

To register for the McAuley Institute for Lifelong Learning and any courses offered this spring, contact GCU’s Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732.987.2263 or You may also visit our Web site at for a printable registration form.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at One Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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