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Georgian Court University Plans 99th Commencement

Superior Court Justice Honora O’Brien Kilgallen to Speak at Undergraduate Ceremony

Lakewood, N.J., Apr. 30, 2010—Georgian Court University will hold its 2010 Commencement Exercises on Thursday, May 20 (Graduate Ceremony), and Friday, May 21 (Undergraduate Ceremony), on its historic campus in Lakewood. An estimated 387 undergraduates and 228 graduate students will receive their diplomas during the university’s 99th annual Commencement.

Graduate Commencement Ceremony
GCU Graduate Commencement will take place at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 20, in the campus’s athletic fields or in the Wellness Center Arena in the event of rain. The Graduate Commencement Speaker will be Kevin Ryan, president and CEO of Covenant House International, the largest privately funded nonprofit agency in North and Central America helping homeless youth. In 2006, Mr. Ryan was appointed New Jersey’s first commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families by Governor Jon Corzine to lead a reform of the state’s child welfare system. Ryan has taught in law schools in both New York and New Jersey, written extensively in the field, and served as a national expert on adolescent best practices and public system reform. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the United States Commissioner’s National Award; Harvard’s Wasserstein Fellowship and the Skadden Fellowship.

In addition to Mr. Ryan, Barbara Ellen Black, D.P.S., will be awarded an honorary doctorate. Dr. Black is the executive director of the Lower Hudson Valley Catholic College and University Consortium. In that role, she manages a collaboration of nine institutions as well as the development of programs and partnerships that preserve and strengthen the member institutions in their Catholic identity, broaden and enrich their environments, promote student leadership, and assist in their fiscal stewardship. In addition, she is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Conference for Mercy Higher Education, which is responsible for exercising the reserved powers for Georgian Court University and 15 other Mercy colleges and universities, preserving their core Catholic identity and the mission of the Sisters of Mercy who founded them. In addition to being the first woman vice president at Fordham University and the vice president for business affairs and administration at Molloy College, Dr. Black served in several capacities at Georgian Court, including vice president of institutional initiatives and interim vice president for finance and administration.

Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony
The Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, May 21, in the athletic fields on campus or in the Wellness Center Arena in the event of rain.

The speaker for the undergraduate ceremony will be Judge Honora O’Brien Killgallen ’82, presiding judge of the Chancery Division, Family Part, of the Superior Court of New Jersey in Monmouth County. She rules on a variety of cases including divorce, child custody, child support, domestic violence, and adoption. Judge Kilgallen maintains a special concern for children and considers them first in all her decisions. In addition to her judiciary duties, Judge Kilgallen, a 1982 alumna of Georgian Court, was appointed by Assignment Judge Lawrence M. Lawson to serve as the chair of the Monmouth Vicinage Advisory Committee on Minority Concerns. She was appointed by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders to serve as the cochair of the Monmouth County Youth Services Commission. She was also appointed by the Supreme Court of New Jersey to serve as the cochair of the State Domestic Violence Working Group. She previously served on the Ethics Committee and the Fee Arbitration Committee.

Prior to her service in the court, Judge Kilgallen served as law clerk for the Honorable Patrick J. McGann Jr. in the Chancery Division—General Equity Part in Monmouth County. Thereafter, she engaged in a general civil litigation practice that included serving as the attorney for six boards of education in Monmouth County. She has served in the Family Part since taking her oath in 2003.

Tradition during Commencement
Traditional aspects of Commencement, some dating back to medieval times, will be present at the Georgian Court ceremonies. Academic regalia, which has its origins in medieval English custom, is worn by faculty and administration alike. The styles of the gowns, mortars, and hoods convey university affiliation, disciplines, and level of achievement of the wearer. The president of the university wears the President’s Medallion, also called the lavaliere, which depicts the seal of the university on the front and the cross of the Sisters of Mercy on the reverse. It is worn by the president at official university functions of high solemnity. After the grand marshals who lead the Commencement procession is the macebearer. The mace’s history and tradition is also rooted in the Middle Ages. Over time the mace was used for royal ceremonial purposes and eventually became intertwined with the idea of a scepter. Colleges and universities use the mace as a symbol of their authority to confer degrees. And, finally, the seniors, as they walk Senior Path during the Commencement procession, stop at The Eagle statue and plant ivy at its base. This tradition is shared by many American universities. It has been posited that the introduction of ivy on campus during “Ivy Days” right before graduation or now during graduation itself was the source of the ivy that gave the Ivy League its name. Why plant ivy? One theory is that it was American educational institutions’ attempts to resemble Cambridge and Oxford.

Three awards are also presented at Commencement: 1. The Academic Excellence Awards are presented to two members of the senior class who have attained the highest grade point average for four years. 2. The Julia Blake Alumnae Award is presented to the senior who has best displayed outstanding loyalty and service during the student’s university years. Miss Julia Blake was a 1919 graduate of Georgian Court and then became a professor. Miss Blake was a phenomenal teacher who dedicated her life to Georgian Court and her students. 3. The President’s Award for Teaching Excellence is presented to a faculty member who is nominated by fellow faculty members in recognition of emulating the values and mission of Georgian Court University, and in acknowledgement of academic distinction, service to education and outstanding achievement in inspiring students.

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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