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GCU Holds 2022 Servant Leadership Summit

Dr. Joshua Fredenburg delivers the keynote at the 2022 Servant Leadership Summit

On January 14, Georgian Court University hosted their annual Servant Leadership Summit. More than 100 students, faculty, and staff from GCU, Caldwell University, Seton Hall University, and Drew University gathered on Zoom to learn what it means to serve, a Mercy core value, as well as to be a leader. The Mercy core values are the backbone of GCU and provide students with a foundation for ethical leadership and service.

Fresh Leadership Perspective

This year’s Servant Leadership Summit keynote speaker was Dr. Joshua Fredenburg, leadership/diversity consultant, TEDx speaker, and president/founder of the award-winning Circle of Change Leadership Experience. Dr. Fredenburg offered information that would be valuable to the current situation in our nation, especially as it relates to civility. He presented listeners with a style of leadership that is focused on serving others and making sure that the needs of others are the highest priority. His servant leadership model philosophy, which enables a person to thrive and succeed as a leader despite any disagreements, focuses on three As: aspire to lead with love, activate empathy, and aim to lead with the right perspective.

“The Servant Leadership Summit, which centered on facilitating difficult conversations and interactions, provided students with motivation and useful strategies,” said Amani Jennings, GCU dean of students. “We also discussed how building campus communities that allow for diverse and conflicting opinions is not easy and requires the insight of students, faculty, staff, and administration.”

“I was very impressed with Dr. J, the keynote speaker. He was amazing and his message came through clearly because of his obvious passion,” said Maureen Ruotolo, assistant director of career services and student employment. “It was very powerful and a bit overwhelming.”

A slide from Dr. Fredenburg’s presentation

Building on the Servant Leadership Conversation

Following Dr. Fredenburg’s speech, students were split into breakout rooms with student leaders. Students were asked to respond to a question and offer strategies for addressing the issue. The questions included “How has COVID impacted and effected our ability to have these ‘tough conversations’ and to lead?” “What topics do you find difficult to discuss?” and “How do you feel about people who hold different viewpoints and why?” Some key responses from these sessions included listening first and learning before you speak, validating others’ perspectives, listening to the silence, and having empathy—all of which take self-work.

“My biggest takeaway was how a true leader is not just dominant, but is also humble and a great listener,” said Tyrone McDaniels, a GCU psychology major. “Therefore, to be a great leader, you must humble yourself, listen to others, and be willing to be wrong.”

Story by Alycia Bardon ’22, a digital communication major at Georgian Court University.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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