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Statewide Servant Leadership Summit Hosted by Georgian Court University

Antoinette Ellis-Williams

Georgian Court University will host its inaugural statewide Servant Leadership Summit on Friday, January 18, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in the Casino Auditorium on its Lakewood campus. The gathering is the first in a planned series of annual events tied to the national observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

College students from throughout New Jersey will converge on GCU’s campus for the servant leadership event and participate in community service projects.

Attendees will also receive ethical leadership guidance from noted scholar, minister, activist, poet, and artist, Antoinette Ellis-Williams, Ph.D., an associate professor of women’s and gender studies at New Jersey City University. Beyond her role at the university, she is the author of Black Gardenias: A Collection of Poems, Stories and Sayings from a Woman’s Heart. Dr. Ellis, a frequent public speaker, also shared her views on the pursuit of a diverse democracy were captured in the 2015 TEDx talk, Finding Justice in the Land of the Free, Beyond Baltimore. She was also a featured guest on NJCU’s Inside the Faculty Studio.

Leadership in Action

Anchored by the university’s Mercy core values of respect, integrity, compassion, service, and justice, this year’s conference offers a signature leadership experience that is specific to GCU. It is an adaptation of GCU Servant Leadership Day, which has been held just prior to MLK Day in the past.

“Mercy core values are a rallying point for us. At GCU, leadership is an integral part of our institution,” said Amani S. Jennings, GCU dean of students. His office works with student groups and others across campus to better understand and embody servant leadership. The late Robert K. Greenleaf, who popularized the term in the 1970s, defined it as “a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.”

“The core values are also aligned with MLK’s commitment to bettering humanity and society,” Dean Jennings said. “That’s why we are shifting to a broader conference focus to include more student leaders in an effort to serve and meet the needs of others.”

Called to Serve

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.

In previous years, about 70 Georgian Court student leaders have participated in GCU’s Servant Leadership Day. This year, organizers hope to attract at least 100 students to the event.

Summit participants will have the opportunity to attend two concurrent workshops titled “Servant Leadership 101” and “Beyond Student Leadership: Purpose-Driven Leadership as a Lifestyle.” Lunch will provide a networking and knowledge sharing opportunity among students from different schools and colleges.

In addition, service projects will include GCU’s ongoing  Teddy Bears for Tykes partnership with the Lakewood Police Department. Several local organizations will also be on hand to discuss volunteer opportunities during a community service fair.

For more information about the inaugural GCU Servant Leadership Summit, contact the Office of Student Life at 732-987-2311. Registration can be completed online.

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, and in 2024, GCU was named one of the best Online Master’s Colleges in New Jersey.

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.