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Georgian Court Retention Program Garners National Recognition

Lakewood, N.J., July 20, 2010—Georgian Court University’s Lion Heart program, an initiative designed to help women who are first-time, full-time, first-generation college students, has won the national 2010 Noel-Levitz Retention Excellence Award.

The honor recognizes Lion Heart as an innovative campus retention program that helps students reach their goals and persevere through graduation. The award is sponsored by Noel-Levitz, a nationally known higher education consulting firm, and will be presented to Georgian Court during the July 21–23 National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention in Atlanta.

“Georgian Court has always been committed to helping students realize their dream of earning a degree,” says GCU President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D.. “Reaching that goal isn’t always easy, and often, students who are the first in their families to attend college need extra support. They need someone to mentor them on, to tell them what they can achieve, and to unlock their hidden potential. That’s where Lion Heart succeeds.”

Launched in 2008, Lion Heart helps GCU attract, enroll, and retain female students whose academic and financial challenges might otherwise chip away at their chances of finishing college. Since the program began, student success at GCU has flourished:

  • Among Lion Heart’s targeted at-risk students, 90 percent remain enrolled into their sophomore year.
  • 71 percent of academically at-risk students who participated in Lion Heart in the Fall 2008 semester avoided academic probation. A semester later, that figure rose to 74 percent.
  • From Fall 2008 to Spring 2009, 92 percent of all GCU freshmen remained enrolled.
  • Overall, GCU retention increased from 70 percent in 2007 to 78 percent in 2008.

“This program works because faculty and professionals across campus are passionate about seeing students do well, and they share in the responsibility of making sure students find their way at Georgian Court,” says President Jeffries, noting the unique ways Lion Heart reaches students.

In their first semester, those who show signs of trouble in the classroom are quickly identified by faculty members. Within 24 hours, GCU advisors follow up with personalized strategies to help the student. Administrators use a specialized survey to examine the student’s feelings about their commitment to completing their degree, their involvement in campus life, and how they feel about their major. Students are then paired with peer mentors or get referrals to GCU’s Office of Career Services, the Counseling Center, or the Office of Financial Aid.

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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