For Immediate Release

Contact: Deborah Gilleran

Georgian Court University Celebrating 100 Years

Centennial Celebration Kicks Off with Grand Opening of $26-Million “Green” Wellness Center

Lakewood, N.J., Aug. 7, 2008—The year was 1908: it was illegal for women to smoke in public in New York; females were declared unfit to operate automobiles in Cincinnati; and women around the world were struggling to gain the right to vote. Yet, in spite of this post-Victorian era that showed little advantage to women, in Plainfield, New Jersey, the Sisters of Mercy built a $3-million facility and founded Mount St. Mary’s College and Academy for Young Ladies—the institution that would later move to Lakewood and change its name to Georgian Court College. Now, a century later, the highly-esteemed Georgian Court University is celebrating its Centennial with a variety of events, programs, and ceremonies.

“One hundred years ago, our Sisters stepped out of tradition to build this dynamic learning institution for young women. Today, Georgian Court University serves more than 3,000 graduate and undergraduate students of all faiths and backgrounds in our residential Women’s College and coeducational University College,” says Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D., university president. “I believe our founding Sisters would be pleased at how far we’ve come and inspired by where we are heading.”

The official kickoff of the yearlong Centennial Celebration is Wednesday, September 24, also known as Mercy Day, a feast day of Our Lady of Mercy, and also a day celebrated around the world by the Sisters of Mercy, GCU’s sponsoring organization. The day begins with a noon Mass, followed by the much-anticipated opening of the GCU Wellness Center at 3:00 p.m. and a candlelight ceremony that evening.

“The Wellness Center will help usher Georgian Court into the next 100 years of serving and educating our community,” says President Jeffries.

Georgian Court broke ground on the $26-million, environmentally-friendly project in April 2007, and the Wellness Center complex has transformed the already picturesque and historic GCU campus. State-of-the-art athletic fields for softball, soccer, and a lacrosse/hockey field, an eight-lane track, and tennis courts have been completed.

The 67,000-square-foot building includes a 1,200-seat arena that will support the basketball, volleyball, and physical education programs, and an exercise science laboratory. The building will also house offices for the new exercise science, wellness, and sports major; professional dance studios for GCU’s new dance major; a fitness center; athletic program offices; a 25-seat classroom; spaces for reflection and gathering; and the university bookstore.

The building’s placement adjacent to the existing library, academic buildings, and café creates a new landscaped campus quad and an important new campus center, unifying the Wellness Center in a village-like atmosphere.

To commemorate the first 100 years of Georgian Court, the university has established a Court of Honor that will honor 100 distinguished alumni. The Court of Honor is scheduled to become an annual tradition of recognizing graduates whose records of service, leadership, and achievement have brought distinction to Georgian Court. Starting in January 2007, the university began revealing 10 Court of Honor inductees per month. By October, those first 100 members will be revealed.

The week of September 22–28 is Mercy Week at Georgian Court University. In celebration of 100 years as a Mercy institution of higher education, GCU will be partnering with local nonprofits and community organizations to host a 100-hour community service marathon. The Mercy Service Marathon will provide a special opportunity for all GCU students, staff, faculty members, alumni, and friends to roll up their sleeves and make a difference in the community.

Participating organizations include the American Red Cross, Providence House of Catholic Charities, Literacy Volunteers of America, the American Cancer Society—Relay for Life, Catholic Charities Emergency and Community Services—Lakewood, Food Bank of Monmouth/Ocean, the Alpha School, Children’s Specialized Hospital, the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program, the Lakewood Parks Department, Contact of Ocean County, and the Lakewood Public Library.

As a university dedicated to the success of women for the past 100 years, GCU is the perfect place to bring women together for an empowering day of learning and sharing. The Women’s Leadership Conference, scheduled for March 2009, will include a keynote address and panels discussing a variety of important topics as they relate to women, such as business, politics, global leadership, health, and the media.

In 2007, Arcadia Publishing launched the softcover book Georgian Court University, by Edwarda Barry, RSM, Ph.D., as part of their Campus History Series.  The book is a pictorial history of the university from its founding in 1908 by the Sisters of Mercy as Mount St. Mary’s College and Academy for Young Ladies. Sister Edwarda is a member of the Sisters of Mercy and an alumna of the university. A former faculty member, department chair, and university trustee, she currently serves as university historian. The book, as well as other Centennial merchandise, is available online at and on campus in the GCU bookstore.

Other Centennial activities include a Centennial Ball to be held Saturday, October 18; the Centennial Convocation Ceremony on Friday, October 24, in the historic Casino Building; the planting of the Centennial Garden near the Wellness Center; and more.

For more information about Georgian Court University and its Centennial Celebration, please contact the university’s Office of Public Information and University Communications at 732.987.2266.

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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