For Immediate Release                      Contact:   Gail Towns              or           Tara Strickland
                                                                                   732.987.2266                          732.987.2291
                                                                                    gtowns@georgian.edu         tstrickland@georgian.edu

GCU “State of the University” Highlights Successes, Challenges

Lakewood, N.J., Oct. 22, 2009—Even during one the most financially difficult years in U.S. history, Georgian Court University saw expanded academic offerings, increased involvement in service learning, and successful accreditation of GCU’s signature teacher education programs. GCU also garnered national recognition for its commitment to sustainability, and was applauded as the first New Jersey university to offset 100 percent of its electricity needs through renewable resources.

Those were just some of the highlights shared by GCU President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D., during her 2009 State of the University address on Thursday, October 15. President Jeffries, now in her eighth year at GCU, talked about the progress that marked 2008, which also celebrated the university’s Centennial milestone.

“While we celebrated history and accomplishment, we were adjusting budgets and plans to cope with financial challenge,” said President Jeffries. “The challenges included reduced revenue from anticipated enrollment and the increased need for financial assistance to our students—many of whom are first in their families to attend college.”

Despite tough fiscal circumstances, GCU saw several achievements last year, she said. Among them:

  • Student enrollment remained stable and more students chose full-time study;
  • Increased service learning programming that integrated academic disciplines and community work in the United States and worldwide;
  • A growing number of students participating in leadership programs and initiatives reflecting Mercy core values;
  • The university’s first-ever soccer NCAA Division II conference championship, and championship performances in softball, volleyball and lacrosse;
  • Accreditation by Teacher Education Accreditation Council, which gave its stamp of approval to GCU’s teacher education and administration and leadership programs, and university-wide reaccreditation by the Middle States Association on Higher Education; and
  • Marking 100 years of academic excellence at Georgian Court during the year-long Centennial Celebration, a series of events that was the backdrop for GCU’s 2009 Women’s Leadership Conference, the school’s first Mercy Service Marathon, and guest presentations from leading figures in social justice, education, business, media, literature and the arts.

President Jeffries also pointed to other successes. Advancement officials raised about $1.2 million through events and annual giving, increased donor opportunities, and launched an alumni mentoring program. The year also brought a total redesign of GCU’s Web site, integrating Web 2.0 technology and social media, and several honors for GCU’s green initiatives.

The school’s bond rating remains stable at BBB+, and GCU leaders have built a very conservative budget for 2009–2010, President Jeffries said.

“This is not the same rosy picture that the past eight years have been,” she said. “The challenges of growing the university while maintaining our commitment to support students require some hard decisions right now.”

The president closed with a preview of the strategies GCU will use to improve class offerings, expand revenue streams, and meet the needs of adults dealing with the volatile labor market.

“This is a time to explore how GCU, like many other institutions of higher education in this state and country, will respond to the challenge of being part of the solution, helping to retool folks and educate a new generation of students for a knowledge economy,” she said.

For a transcript of the 2009 State of the University Address, contact Gail Towns, director of public information and university communications, at 732.987.2266 or visit the GCU Press Room at www.georgian.edu/press_room/index.htm.

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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