For Immediate Release
Contact: Gail Towns - 732.987.2266 Tara Strickland - 732.987.2291 Bookmark and Share 


GCU Critical Concerns Week Examines Race from Multiple Perspectives

Lakewood, N.J., Oct. 26, 2010—From its role in education, employment, and socioeconomics to whether we can realistically expect to live in a color-blind society, the very mention of race is enough to get people talking.

But such discussions, however difficult, can be meaningful, according to the organizers of Georgian Court University’s 2010 Critical Concerns Week: Race Awareness. From Monday, November 1 through Friday, November 5, GCU faculty, students and guest speakers will examine racism and society’s need to embrace multicultural perspectives.

The event reflects the slate of critical concerns addressed by the Sisters of Mercy, GCU’s sponsoring organization. Each year since 2006, the McAuley Community Center at GCU has dedicated a week of scholarly study to special concerns, including women’s issues, the environment, immigration and identity, and nonviolence.

The general public is invited to attend 2010 Critical Concerns Week: Race Awareness, which kicks off Monday with a 5:30 p.m. student-led peace march on campus, followed by the 6:30 p.m. appearance of headline speaker and national media contributor Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D.

Overall, the week of programming aims to “deepen our response to the unrecognized and unreconciled racism, past and present, within our community.” Throughout the week, participants will offer a provocative and critical assessment of race and its role in society, and the university will host a five-day showing of “Sylvia’s Children,” the poignant traveling exhibit that relays the stories of poor and orphaned children living in Uganda.

GCU will also convene a Tuesday afternoon student-only gathering entitled, “Saying the Hard Things: A Safe Space to Explore Personal Experiences of Racism.” Members of the press may contact the GCU Office of Public Information for additional information about this supportive, non-judgmental sharing session led by Robin Solbach, Ph.D., director of GCU Counseling Services, and Cynthia Ninivaggi, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology. During the session, Drs. Solbach and Ninivaggi will listen as members of majority and minority cultures share their own stories in an effort to enhance understanding of how racism affects us all.

The following events are free and open to the public:

Monday, November 1

Education Matters: Creating Educational Equality for All Students
Activist, social critic, and scholar, Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D., spoke to a full house at GCU last fall and returns during Critical Concerns Week to address the myriad issues affecting student success in America’s schools. Dr. Hill, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, is considered a public intellectual  who moves with ease between Faculty Row and Fraternity Row, “the street” and Main Street. Often sought for his views on diversity, hip-hop culture, and the younger generation, Dr. Hill has contributed to CNN, NPR, FOX News, The Washington Post, Essence, and The New York Times.
Location:  Little Theatre
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 2

Cultural Awareness in Language, Education, and Life
What we say, what we write, what we learn, what we teach, and how we live our lives impacts others, especially those from other cultures. Discover new ways of thinking about cultural awareness in this interactive session facilitated by Lili Bruess, Ph.D., assistant professor of education and Sarita Nemani, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics.
Location: Little Theatre
Time: 9:30 a.m.

Race and Diversity: Historical, Cultural, and Theological Roots
Johann Vento, Ph.D., associate professor of religious studies and theology, introduces the theological perspective into the traditional historical and cultural context of race and privilege and how these perceptions can be addressed.
Location: Little Theatre
Time: 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 3

Power, Prejudice, and Oppression: Towards a Unified Field Theory of “isms”
Kasturi Das Gupta, Ph.D., professor of sociology, offers a scholarly view of the Sisters of Mercy’s critical concerns—immigration, the Earth, nonviolence, women, and race—and examines how they are connected.
Location: Little Theatre
Time: 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 4

Community Conversations: Race, Culture, and Life in Lakewood
The intersection of culture and community presents daily opportunities and challenges in Lakewood, one of the most unique communities along the Jersey Shore. Robert Louden, Ph.D., professor and director of criminal justice, leads an expert panel on the meaning of community in one of New Jersey’s most diverse cities.
Location: Little Theatre
Time: 2:00 p.m.

Sylvia’s Children
More than 1,000 African children refer to Holmdel resident Sylvia Allen as their grandmother. The marketing and public relations pro is the organizing force behind Sylvia’s Children, the nonprofit organization that supports the Mbiriizi Primary School in Masaka, Uganda, where children, ages 3 to 14, are enrolled, and where at least 236 of the students are orphans. This traveling exhibit features dozens of photographs of the children and artifacts made and used by the people of east Africa. The display also includes rubber tire sandals, musical instruments, woven mats, and more. Handcrafts made by the schoolchildren will also be on display and available for purchase. Learn more at
Location: McAuley Heritage Center
Time: 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.*
(*Closes at noon on Friday)

Space is limited for each event and reservations should be made by contacting the GCU Office of Conferences and Special Events, which can be reached at 732.987.2263 or For high-resolution images of guest speakers, event coverage, or Sylvia’s Children, contact the GCU Office of Public Information 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 nearly 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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