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Immigration & Migration Issues Explored During GCU Critical Concerns Week. Keynote by Catholic Humanitarian Dr. Carolyn Woo

Dr. Woo

Raising awareness, sparking dialogue, and finding ways to support modern day migrants will be the focus of a series of events scheduled for March 18-21, as part of Critical Concerns Week at Georgian Court University.

The 2024 theme is “Migration: A Planet on the Move.”  The campus community and the public are invited to participate in a variety of lectures, workshops, presentations, and displays exploring the issues faced by migrants across the globe.  There will also be a dance performance, a global marketplace vendor fair showcasing entrepreneurs from around the globe, and a sock and underwear drive for migrants in need.

On Tuesday, March 19 at 2:45 p.m. the keynote address, “Successful Refugees Resettlement: A Whole of Society Approach,” will be presented by Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, a renowned author, scholar, humanitarian, and a former President & CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) – the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the U.S. The event is being sponsored by GCU’s Mulcahy Institute for Social Justice, established in 2020 to promote the values of social justice to students and future generations.

Despite the scale of the challenges of immigration we are currently facing here and abroad, Dr. Woo’s presentation will highlight some responses that can be undertaken in a whole-of-society approach to successfully integrate migrant populations.

Dr. Woo, who was recognized as one of 500 of the “Most Powerful People on the Planet” by Foreign Policy, has vast experience working with refugees across the globe through the CRS, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the U.S.  CRS works to provide relief, reduce poverty, diminish risk and foster prosperity.

“We are honored to have Dr. Woo as our keynote speaker to shed light on this critical issue and share her real-world experiences working with refugees, migrants and immigrant populations,” said Jeff Schaffer, Executive Director of Mission & Ministry at GCU. “Migration has always been a part of human adaptation to environmental stress, social, economic, and political upheaval as well as the desire for human and cultural connection. Human beings migrate for freedom, safety, family, and for new opportunities.”

In addition to human migration, there will be presentations that explore the migration of birds, fish, insects, and wildlife, which have adapted to migrate with the rhythm of changing seasons and environmental conditions.

Critical Concerns Week is an annual program that focuses on a variety of important humanitarian and social issues and encourages action related to the five Mercy Core Values of Respect, Integrity, Justice, Compassion, Service. This year’s program focus is on compassion.  “As people of Mercy, when we see the suffering of those who must be on the move, we are called to compassion,” added Schaffer.

For a complete list of activities and events visit the Critical Concerns Week web page:

About the Speaker:

Dr. Carolyn Woo was educated by the Maryknoll Sisters in Hong Kong and came to the U.S. in 1972 as a foreign student with one year of funding.  With scholarships and fellowships, she was able to complete her Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. at Purdue University, where she was hired as a professor and then rose through the ranks to become Associate Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. She was cited as one of the “Top Forty Leaders Under Forty” by Change Magazine.

From 1997 to 2011, she served as dean of the Mendoza College at the University of Notre Dame, focusing on the college’s Catholic identity and building the team and culture to systematically improve teaching, pursue curricula innovations, enhance placement of students and embed ethics in all business disciplines. She was elected the first female chair of AACSB International (accreditation association for business schools worldwide) and led the launch of the Principles for Responsible Management program with the United Nations.

From 2012-2016 Dr. Woo served as CEO of Catholic Relief Services as CEO which undertakes humanitarian relief and sustainable development in over one hundred countries serving over a hundred million people each year. CRS designs and implements over a thousand programs annually to reduce poverty, diminish risk and foster prosperity. The areas include emergency relief, micro-finance, health systems, childhood development, education, agricultural productivity, empowerment of women, refugee resettlement, peace-building, capacity building of partners and beneficiaries, and impact assessment.  In 2013, Carolyn was recognized as one of 500 of the “Most Powerful People on the Planet by Foreign Policy and as one of thirty in the category of “A Force for Good.”

Dr. Woo has been honored with numerous awards and honorary degrees.  She received the top honor for her column on spirituality by the Catholic Press Association, is a frequent contributor to “Give Us This Day” and has authored two books, “Working for a Better World” and “Rising: Learning from Women’s Leadership in Catholic Ministries.”

Dr. Woo has served on the boards of corporate enterprises in the US and Europe covering global risk management, regulated utility, AI-driven socially responsible investing, community banking, retailing, auto components manufacturing, and pharmaceutical distribution. Current and past Catholic boards include Catholic University, University of Portland, University of Notre Dame Australia, National Catholic Education Association, Ascension Health System, Catholic Charities USA, Our Sunday Visitor, and Holy Cross Family Ministries.  She coordinated the Vatican Dialogues on Energy Transition (2018, 2019, 2021) which convened CEOs of energy and investment companies in conversation with each other and the Holy Father.

She has been widely recognized for teaching, research, service, and leadership through different awards and honorary doctorates.  Dr. Woo received the top honor for her column on spirituality from the Catholic Press Association, is a contributor to Give Us This Day, and authored of two books,  Working for a Better World and Rising: Learning from Women’s Leadership in Catholic Ministries

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a leading regional university that provides a transformative education, preparing students for ethical leadership and service in the Catholic Mercy tradition. Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. The university has 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 1,900 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 16 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 make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings.

The main campus is 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 through its Center for Professional Studies, and at other locations, including GCU at Brookdale, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.

Deposit Deadline Extended to June 1

Georgian Court University has extended the deposit deadline to June 1 in response to the U.S. Department of Education announcement concerning delayed data availability from the revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Additionally, deposits are also refundable up to June 1. Click here for more information about the deposit extension.