Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D., President of Georgian Court University
Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D., became the eighth president of Georgian Court College (now University) in Lakewood, New Jersey, on July 1, 2001. President Jeffries, a Catholic Sister of Mercy, brought with her an understanding of higher education and both secular and religious leadership experiences, and has led the university through unprecedented growth since she took the helm.
President Jeffries shepherded the 100-year-old institution, founded in 1908 and celebrating its Centennial this year, through the process of changing from college to university status, which was awarded in February 2004. In 2012, she and trustee leadership announced the decision to transition GCU to a fully coeducational university.
During President Jeffries’ first five years as president, $28 million in construction and renovation also took place on the Lakewood campus. This includes the Dorothy Marron University Community Chapel, St. Catherine Residence Hall for students, Mercy Residence Hall for the Sisters of Mercy and visiting faculty, the Audrey Birish George Science Center, and the Court Café, a campus eatery for commuting students. In September 2008, the campus celebrated the grand opening of the $26-million, 67,000-square-foot ecofriendly Wellness Center, which is slated to receive LEED certification.
President Jeffries spearheaded the largest fundraising effort in the university's history, the Campaign for Georgian Court, which raised $17.2 at its close in June 2008 and exceeded its original goal of $15-million. This campaign helped to guarantee our ability to offer a high-quality, Catholic education to our students while maintaining our historic special concern for women.
The university has seen dramatic changes since President Jeffries took the helm. Over the years, she has also overseen a range of educational and community partnerships, including the former GCU at Woodbridge, GCU at Cumberland County College, and she instituted or strengthened special agreements with Brookdale Community College, Burlington County College, Ocean County College, Union County College, Middlesex County College, and Raritan Valley Community College. These agreements enhance and promote ease of transfer from a two-year institution to GCU.
President Jeffries has also founded a strong service learning program at GCU, which gives students and faculty the opportunity to put Georgian Court’s Mercy core values—compassion, respect, integrity, service, and justice—into action.
She also has strengthened the global character of Georgian Court University, bringing international students to New Jersey and establishing partnerships between GCU and universities in the Philippines, Honduras, Japan, and China.
Before coming to GCU, President Jeffries worked for the Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of New Jersey, Watchung, in many capacities. She was director of communications, director of development and public relations, a member of the leadership team, and, most recently, vice president. She was also the director of communications for the Diocese of Trenton and held positions in pastoral ministry and teaching.
President Jeffries currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Joseph’s College, West Hartford, CT; chair of the New Jersey Presidents’ Council; chair of the Mercy Presidents’ Council; former chair of the Tri-State Advisory Board for Thirteen, WNET, the flagship public television station in New York City; former member of the Tri-State Catholic Committee on Radio and Television; and former member of the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees, Diocese of Trenton.
President Jeffries has been published in numerous journals, such as Campus Technology, New Catholic World, and Horizon: Journal of the National Religious Vocation Conference, on topics that include religious life and media and gospel values.
President Jeffries, a native of Ocean City, New Jersey, holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Fordham University, an M.A. in Religious Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary, an M.A. in Public Communications from Fordham, and a B.A. in Art Education from Georgian Court College.
Since her inauguration as the eighth president of Georgian Court, Sister Rosemary led the college to university status in 2004, spearheaded the highly successful Campaign for Georgian Court which raised 17.2 million dollars, and transformed the campus with six new buildings and a strong vision based on the Mercy core values. She has championed a leadership program for the women’s college of Georgian Court, and diversified and expanded academic offerings by establishing the Georgian Court-Meridian Health School of Nursing and adding such majors as applied behavior analysis; dance; exercise science, wellness, and sports; and growing online master's programs in holistic health and homeland security.