For Immediate Release

Contact: Deborah Gilleran

Georgian Court University Graduates Encouraged to Be Voice of Hope for a Better World

Speaker Says Graduates’ Lives Will Be Judged by Their Kindness, Integrity, and Justice

Lakewood, N.J., May 16, 2008—Celebrating its Centennial, Georgian Court University held its 97th Commencement exercises today on its Lakewood campus, conferring degrees upon 600 undergraduate and graduate students.

At its morning Commencement ceremony, Georgian Court conferred 188 graduate degrees. The honorary degree of Doctor of Ministry was conferred upon Sister of Mercy Grace Nolan, a 1957 graduate of Georgian Court and coordinator of the Atlantic County Family Services and Community Center for Catholic Charities. The honorary degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence was conferred upon Eugene D. Serpentelli, J.D., who served as a New Jersey Superior Court judge for almost 29 years before his retirement in July 2007. He was the longest serving assignment judge in the history of the judiciary.

The graduate Commencement speaker and recipient of the honorary degree of Doctor of Education was Patricia B. Licuanan, Ph.D. Dr. Licuanan has long been a champion for Catholic higher education and women’s rights. She is the president of Miriam College in Manila, Philippines, formerly known as Maryknoll College. Her work on women’s issues is vast and includes serving as a working trustee for the Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics, as chair of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, as adviser to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs of Afghanistan, and in various leadership roles in regional women’s networks such as the Asia Pacific Women’s Watch and South East Asia Women’s Watch. In 1995, Dr. Licuanan chaired the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Dr. Licuanan was instrumental in creating the conference’s sweeping platform for action on wide-ranging women’s issues from poverty and education to violence and human rights.

Before accepting the presidency at Miriam College, Dr. Licuanan served in many positions at Ateneo de Manila University, Manila, Philippines, a school in the Jesuit tradition.

Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D., president of Georgian Court University, visited Dr. Licuanan at Miriam College several years ago to establish an exchange agreement for faculty and students between the two institutions of Catholic higher learning.

Dr. Licuanan encouraged the graduates to become change-leaders in this global economy; to face inconvenient truths, and look challenges squarely in the eye. “Be a critical voice. Demand the best,” Dr. Licuanan extolled. “Be a voice of hope for a better world.”

During the afternoon Commencement, GCU conferred 412 undergraduate degrees. The honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred upon GCC 1951 graduate businesswoman Peggy Cleary. The honorary degree of Doctor of Ministry was conferred upon María Elena González, a Sister of Mercy who was the first woman president of the Mexican American Cultural Center in Texas, a national Catholic center that seeks to empower and educate leaders for service in a culturally diverse church and society. She was also the first woman chancellor in the Diocese of Lubbock, and one of the first women diocesan chancellors in the country.

New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram was the Commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony. In her remarks, Attorney General Milgram, only the third female attorney general in New Jersey, told the graduates to follow what’s in their hearts, to have confidence in their abilities, to not postpone life but to be present in each moment, and more than anything else to remember that their lives will be judged, not necessarily on their professional accomplishments, but on the kindness, integrity, and ultimately, the justice they show.

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 90 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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