Georgian Court University welcomed new students and honored student and faculty achievements at Convocation 2017, a celebration of academic excellence that officially marked the start of the 2017–2018 academic year.
More than 1,000 students, faculty, administration, staff, and parents filled the chairs and bleachers of the Wellness Center on a sunny afternoon on August 31 for the ceremony.
“Education at Georgian Court is a community effort, where we invite students to pursue academic excellence integrated with the Mercy core values of respect, justice, integrity, compassion, and service,” President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D., told the crowd. “These values guide and inform us in this noble endeavor.”
Academic Excellence in Faculty-Student Research
President Marbach noted that this entering class of new students is the most academically prepared group of students that Georgian Court has admitted in two generations. He also honored the faculty—the “teachers, mentors, and guides” of GCU’s students—and unveiled Faculty Focus 2017, a publication that highlights over 100 examples of the faculty scholarly achievements and faculty-student research collaborations of the past academic year.
In his keynote address, Scott H. Bennett, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of History, Geography, and Political Science, and recipient of the 2017 Virginia Graham ’31 Award for Teaching Excellence, urged students to make their own histories, determine their futures, and advance social justice and the Mercy core values through intellectual experience, travel, and civic engagement.
“Liberal education equips us with the cultural heritage, knowledge, and skills to better understand the experiences and aspirations of ‘others’—essential in our increasingly global world,” Dr. Bennett said. “Liberal education fosters cultural literacy and the public square.”
He spoke of transformative possibilities: “Regardless of your academic major or professional career, I urge you to embrace the liberal arts, to become civically engaged, locally and globally, and to use your education, experiences, and gifts to transform the lives of others and increase opportunities for everyone,” he said.
Passion for Leadership and Service
In her welcome to the new students, Miriam Hunte ’16, said attending Georgian Court helped her “grow as a student and as a person.”
“I chose to be involved in programs such as WILD, student government, and many honor societies. I also joined the Office of Residence life during my sophomore year as a resident assistant, an opportunity I encourage each of you to pursue,” she said. “While all of these opportunities differed in their own respect, they all pushed me to one thing: becoming a leader.”
She said she discovered her passion for service at GCU, leading her to pursue a master’s degree in public administration at New York University’s School of Public Service, where she is beginning her second year.
“Overall, college is truly what you make it,” Miriam said. “Remember to always dream big, go far, and never forget your second home, Georgian Court University.”
During the ceremony, Barbara A. Cordasco, Ed.D., received emerita status—as an associate professor emerita of education—after her 19 years of service at GCU.
The student pledge and pinning of new students were led by Olivia Zitarosa ’18, president of the Student Government Association. The ceremony concluded with a special blessing of the new students and a singing of the alma mater, “Hail to the Blue and Gold.”