Georgian court was the former winter estate of George Jay Gould, the heir of a railroad tycoon, his wife, Edith Kingdon, and their six children. Gould hired Bruce Price, a famous architect to design the estate in the traditional English country home style with Georgian architectural lines. The architecture along with the owners name, combined to create the name “Georgian Court.” After Edith’s tragic death, the estate was sold to the Sisters of Mercy with the name continuance as a condition of sale and the sisters founded Georgian Court in 1908 with just seven students and a “special concern for women” which continues to shape Georgian Court’s current identity.
Georgian Court was primarily a women’s vocational school in the beginning and the gatekeepers lodge (now home to campus ministry) was once used to teach home economics. The school quickly earned a reputation for academic excellence, particularly in education and the reputation has held to this day. Learning to evolve with the times, Georgian Court added many academic schools and majors throughout its 100 year history, totaling more that 25 different academic majors and nine graduate programs. Georgian Court earned university status in 2004 without losing the personal touch of a small school where professors are accessible, greeting students by name and always teaching their own classes. The institution is also a leader in environmental action with a top ten ranking among the nation’s most environmentally friendly schools and the eco-friendly, soon-to-be LEED certified Wellness Center which has proven a big draw, along with the new dance, exercise science and nursing majors, for prospective students.
As reported by our campus ambassador:
“One of my favorite things about Georgian Court University is how breathtakingly beautiful our campus is. Set on the former estate of financier George J. Gould and his movie star wife, Edith Kingdon, the older buildings are built in the Georgian style of architecture (hence the name) and remain in tact for the most part. While the newer buildings are easy to pick out, the Sisters of Mercy have done a wonderful job of blending the new architecture with the old.
The extensive grounds make one feel like a highborn lady roaming her estate while walking to and from classes. Beside St. Joseph Hall is a quiet Japanese Garden. In the Italian Garden there are plenty of marble benches and pergolas, which are semicircular seats located under Georgian pillars. They make great spots for quiet study outdoors. Near the practice fields there is a romantic pagoda. Wooden picnic benches and tables litter the lawn in front of the Casino. While students rarely sit in the lovely courtyard facing the Catherine McAuley Heritage Chapel, it’s pleasant to walk through to Raymond Hall.
As the campus is located relatively close to the shore, we enjoy pleasant weather for most of the year with only a GCU hoodie needed for the short walks between residence halls and classes. Except in February, when the grounds are beautifully blanketed in snow and tracks from the deer that live in our woods become scarce on campus. Parking lots are plentiful and conveniently located near the school buildings. However, if you find a good spot in the morning, moving your car during the day to another parking lot isn’t very smart as you’ll inevitably be further out and most students are nice enough to walk each other out or drive a classmate to her car or hall after dark.”
Often referred to as “beautiful, historic Lakewood” in brochures and online or “peaceful, pleasure-loving Lakewood” (Rudyard Kipling: American Notes 1891) the small town in which Georgian Court University is set retains much of its quaint charm today. Renamed to encourage tourism, this shore community boasts some truly beautiful parks and views, especially surrounding Georgian Court University. Balancing out the all women’s Catholic University is Beth Medrash Govoha, the world famous school for advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic studies. Unfortunately, the braver GCU girls have been unable to coordinate any kind of “formal” between the two schools.
Once a playground for the rich and famous, Lakewood was home to the likes of financier George J. Gould (Georg-ian Court), movie star Edith Kingdon (Gould’s wife), and oil baron, John D. Rockefeller. Literary giants and U.S. Presidents visited its luxurious hotels and the New York Giants conducted spring training in the town that has become predominantly populated by Hispanic and Jewish families today.
While neighborhoods are quiet, there is no nightlife or diverse dining to be had. GCU residents generally head home to Howell, Jackson or to the shore for fun after dark. Brick, Toms River and Seaside are popular “outing” sites at just 15 minutes to half an hour away. Within Lakewood, FirstEnergy Park is home to the Lakewood Blue Claws, “Single A” Minor League baseball team and the historic Strand Theatre, which boasts Broadway quality shows at community theatre prices, is just a short walk from GCU campus.
Need a new car for college? At 3% sales tax, your Unigo.com rep recommends waiting to buy it at one of the many dealerships along Route 88. However, should you feel the need to venture beyond the shops and old fashioned architecture of the “downtown area,” drive quickly in a straight line as though you know where you are going and are serious about getting there. While Lakewood is conveniently located near major roads like the Garden State Parkway, Routes 9 and 88, walking along these is not recommended.
Every year we take a few nights to drift back to our high school days and play dress up at a "school dance." In the fall, we have the "Back Porch Party" which is a contemporary welcome back with a "ghetto-fabulous" theme. The "Winter Ball" with West Point Academy (I know!) is more formal in the old fashioned tradition of "girl school/boy school" dance. Since the vast majority of GCU students are commuters, attendance at both is spotty but makes for an interesting look at the psychology of who comes and why. Those who do show are in it to win it!
The Catholic Illuminati Sorority:
Georgian Court is best known for its education program, and since every education major is required to dual major, the vast majority take English as their second. Each class offering at Georgian Court is catgorized by the section number beginning with 1, which is the earliest that class is offered for the semester, and ending (on the Lakewood Campus) with 12. So section one is all the day students who are here on campus 4-5 days a week and seriously here for the education. This creates an inner circle of commuting English/Education Majors, then narrows it down by seniors and each one (in the English dept.) has to take Senior Seminar 1&2.
Sister Maria (Cordis Richey) an alumna of Georgian Court College and contributor to the literary magazine, Fountain Spray, both as a student and faculty member, always teaches "Senior Sem." -And yes, this is she of the handwritten syllabus in thin spidery script and shakespearian garb as a prop to her theatrical lecturing. She takes attendance and if you come in late or leave class for more than ten minutes at a time, she notices and records it. God forbid you are suspected of plagiarism (Ahem. -Not me!), you will receive a note expressing her disappointment and assurance of your place in her prayers! I kid you not.
In order to be inducted into the Sigma Tau Delta (English) honor society, you have to be in your senior year and besides an outrageous GPA, be handpicked and personally invited by Sister Maria.It's like the Catholic English/Education Mafia Sorority! - Every "Senior Sem" class should get Sister Maria a gift.
Faithful Like the Rain on Graduation Day:
Every year GCU struggles to keep up with its own growth and never is this more clear than on Graduation Day. Even after the completion of the new Wellness Center (which houses a brand new basketball stadium and also attracted more students to the new majors) we can never muster more than two guests per graduate in indoor seating capacity. The closer it gets to finals, the more frantic the mass email requests to buy others' "spare tickets" get and the more irritated the replies. Weather permitting, we could, theoretically, have it outside but as it is, it rains faithfully every graduation. Thus we continue to scramble for more tickets and get our brand new heels good and muddy.
As a Catholic women's university, we have a set of "mercy core values" which are traditionally (read: supposedly) as important as our very expensive education. These are: Service, Compassion, Integrity, Respect and Justice. In addition to obligatory internships, every undergrad must complete a 10 hour "Service Learning" requirement. Service Learning is basically a community service project that reflects our core values and relates in some way to the class in which it's embedded. For example, in my Public Relations Campaigns class, each student chooses a non-profit organization as their "client" and creates and carries out a campaign for them. In Women’s Studies, students volunteer at rehab centers, battered women’s shelters, etc. The upside is that many students become attached to the people and/or organization they work with and when the 10 hour commitment is up, many stay on as long term volunteers. Even if you don't, it feels good to make a meaningful impression on your part of the world while you're still in school and mostly waiting to get out there and show what you've got.
Academics: A Tradition of Excellence, A Future of Success...
GCU is an academic school. Because of the prohibitive cost of tuition, most students average 15-18 credits per semester but advisors will express great concern if they don't feel a student can maintain a high GPA across so many classes. If you turn in a "B" assignment and your professor feels it is not your personal best work, he/she will make that abundantly clear. Every semester, on the Tuesday right before finals (which begin on Wednesday and end the following Tuesday) there is no class and the library is open from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. -It's our inviolate "Study Day." Remember the Catholic Illuminati Sorority? They're the only club/group that meets on Monday morning instead of during the designated 2-4 p.m. slot on Tuesday's and Thursday's which the school purposely keeps open for campus life and activities. Almost every professor takes some sort of attendance. If you have more than two unexcused absences in one semester, the Sisters of Mercy are alerted and you'll receive a concerned email wondering if everything is ok and if there is anything the Sisters can do to help. Attendance can also affect your final grade for the class.”
Florence Riccobono Johnson (1945) A make-up artist for NBC and CBS, her famous clientele include The Beatles, Helen Hayes, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, the cast of Guiding Light and U.S. Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Clinton.
Joanna Coons-Kosloff (1972) A successful screen-writer, editor and development professional, her TV credits include One Life to Live, Capitol, All My Children and Another World. She is currently at work on the memoirs of R&B singer Melba Moore.
Barbara Allen Simpson (1958) This platinum bombshell made her way to California where she earned a variety of awards as a TV news anchor and radio talk show host. Simpson interviewed Vice-President Ford during the Watergate investigation and co-produced and co-anchored a nightly discussion on the scandal.
Katherine Cairone, RSM (1964) After learning of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis at age 27, “Sister Kathy” forged bravely ahead to earn her Master’s degree and has become well known for the paintings she creates from her chin-operated wheelchair.
Maria Cordis Richey, PhD, RSM (1950) After graduating summa cum laude, Sister Maria returned to GCU as a beloved professor of English (which she still teaches) and was listed in the 1971 edition of Oustanding Educators in America. During her tenure as president from 1974-1980, GCU saw the inception of co-education and the return of the business administration major after a 10-year absence.
Mary John Considine, RSM (1912) (deceased) Holds the distinction of being the first woman to earn a graduate degree from Fordham University and the first woman to earn a religious degree from a Jesuit university. During her 1940-1948 tenure as president of GCU, Considine received a Doctor of Humane Letters from Fordham University calling her a “pioneer nun in graduate school.”
Patricia Pickett Briody (1969) For some people 10 years of teaching middle school science and 25 years as first vice president for Prudential Securities just isn’t enough. In 1998, Briody “settled down” to the business of making race car industry history as the only woman ever to win the Craftsman Crew Chief of the Race Award as her husband’s crew chief during the Trans Am Series in Grand Rapids Michigan.
Christina Geis, RSM (1949) The GCU art gallery is named for Geis who taught art for over 40 years at GCU and was awarded the title of professor emerita upon her retirement in 2001. Well known for her watercolors and historic preservation efforts, Geis published Georgian Court: An Estate of the Gilded Age, a record of life at Georgian Court as the Gould family estate, in 1982.
Felicya Senick Morreale (1993) and (2004) Morreale won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation’s highest award for math and science teachers in grades K-12, and is one of four teachers in New Jersey to attain National Board Certification-AYA for math. She remains active in the GCU community as a student and new teacher mentor and is a volunteer advisor for the JROTC club.
Eleanor Weisbrod (1944) Described as a “trailblazer for women in science and industry,” Weisbrod was the only female in the MBA program at Farleigh Dickinson University and distinguished herself in the male-dominated industries of chemistry and marketing. True to her personal mission of “helping others reach their potential through education,” Weisbrod teaches literacy skills through her local library and has endowed scholarships for GCU students.
Although the athletic department at Georgian Court only started about seven or eight years ago, this isn’t the first go ‘round for either the coaches or athletes at GCU. All GCU Lions teams are NCAA Division II competitors with a fair share of state championship awards between them. So far, in 2009, the volleyball team leads the pack with its third straight championship, a victory the soccer team can relate to as 2009 champs as well. The softball team is also expected to continue the winning streak they began with a 2008 championship win and the basketball team is blazing its own trail to victory, spurred on by the cheer club who just began performing at games least year.
Beginning with just 40 student athletes and growing to 120 now competing in basketball, cross-country, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field and volleyball, this young and vigorous department plans to add intramural sports teams in soccer and softball by fall 2009. While these teams are less competitive, the student-athletes will still have to maintain the GCU minimum GPA of 2.0, up from the NCAA requirement of 1.8 which is tougher than it would seem with thrice weekly games plus practice.
Smashing stereotypes and clichés, the GCU Lions are friendly and accessible around the small campus and claim there is no awkwardness between gay and straight athletes in the locker rooms or on the courts and fields of this notoriously lesbian college. Many athletes describe the athletics department in general and their team in particular as a “big, close-knit family” and can often be spotted congregating in groups which include athletes from various different sports. GCU also offers a variety of need and merit-based awards to aid student athletes financially.
As reported by our campus ambassador:
1. Interesting People:
Sister Maria: A GCU alumna, she teaches every Senior Seminar in English from a handwritten (Make no mistake, I mean cursive!) syllabus and swaps her 1960’s style habit for Shakespearian garb to enact scenes in class. If you are suspected of plagiarism, you’ll receive a handwritten note like the one my “friend” got expressing her disappointment and assuring you of your place in her prayers.
The tag team that is Dr. Eric Wurmser M.D. and Dr. Gail Holian Ph.D:
Dr. Wurmser is a philanthropic plastic surgeon who leads medical missions to correct cleft abnormalities in Asia, loves literature and apparently GCU. If your class is officially taught by Dr. Holian, chances are they’re teaching it together. While Dr. Wurmser is regular instructor, they often invite guests such as surgeons who enjoy psychoanalyzing James Joyce and merchant marines who contribute by re-writing Ethan Frome. ‘Cuz that’s how we roll at GCU.
2. Places to Find: The ADC (Academic Development Center) is open to all students and offers free tutoring in everything from Advanced Calculus to Italian. It’s located in the former stables with the Education School, of course. OIT (Office of Information Technology) is a great place to hide out and study as it’s in the basement of the library and has no cell reception. –They also fix personal computer issues even if it’s not a GCU issued Dell and are pretty cool. The Office of Student Life is on the main floor of the A&S building and a site of constant student traffic. There are frequently coffee and pastries set out in the morning and they have cool giveaways like razors and tampons. -Also great at helping new students find classes and a host of other info.
3. Professors to Seek/Avoid: If you’re just joining us, you’ll have to take RS220 The Christian Tradition and WS311 Women and Gender. Dr. Vento teaches both and is my top recommendation. Avoid Dr. Brown unless you’re a Psych major. In the Business School, you’ll find Dr. Dolan (not to be confused with Dr. Nolan, also of the business persuasion). She’s very nice and knowledgeable. If you’re looking for a good nap, take her class. –Otherwise, Professor Wiencek (Communications Chairwoman) now teaches some of the “hybrid” classes between Communications and Business. LOVE HER! Love. Her.
4. How to Get Here: ALWAYS take the Parkway. The Parkway is your friend, like Jesus; find it and it will guide you in the paths of right. Never use Rt. 9 if it can be avoided. Trust me.
5. What to Drive: Drive what you want but if you’re looking for a new car, wait till you get here. Lakewood has a sales tax of only 3% so Rt. 88 is littered with every car dealership available. Ok, not Mercedes. Or BMW. Wait. Ok so we have “student-economy friendly” dealerships.
6. Gay/Straight: Who Cares? We do have a much larger gay community that most other schools but we’re cool about it. Hey if the athletes don’t have a problem in the locker-room, why should we? Most of the lesbians seem to be in the Business School. I’m not sure why that is but there is also a higher than normal ratio of men. So if you’re looking for a date, the Business School is your best bet.
7. Sports: GCU offers a variety of women’s sports including Basketball, Cross Country, Lacrosse, Softball, Volleyball, Track and Field, Tennis and Soccer. The Basketball team has won six out of seven games so far this season and the Softball team was rated number two in the CACC’s (Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference) Preseason Softball Poll. All the GCU Lions Roar with Pride!
8. Where to go for fun: New York City is nice, as is the Jersey Shore. If you’re stuck looking for something to do in Lakewood, however, don’t despair. The Strand offers Broadway quality shows at community theatre prices and is a just short walk “off the reservation.” Can’t get enough sports on campus? Check out the “Single A” minor league baseball team, the Lakewood Blue Claws, at FirstEnergy Park where kids eat for free.
9. Going Green at GCU: Besides our deep commitment to the environment, GCU is “green” in a variety of interesting ways. There are probably more recycling bins on campus than garbage cans, we use low energy appliances and are currently ranked #1 in New Jersey’s “Recyclemania.” GCU students don’t shop at Walmart (which is bad for society in general) for binder paper and note cards, we roll slim, trim and digital with our lightweight Dell laptops. While we may not be the debutante daughters of landed gentry, GCU is not cheap and most students came from private/Catholic High Schools paid for by their parents, just like college. Those of us who didn’t are smart with our green, juggling Financial Aid and up to 4 part-time jobs in addition to our class load which typically includes 15-18 credits per semester. After a scathing review in the Lions Tale newspaper last semester, the Court Café has started offering more vegetarian and vegan friendly choices of eats and the Dining Hall has an entire section of its buffet style offerings dedicated to leaf lovers.
10. Legend has it that former mistress of the Georgian Court Estate, Edith Kingdon, erected a statue in the lovely Italian Garden for every time her husband was unfaithful. The gorgeous Lagoon, below the Sunken Garden, hid tunnels through which George J. Gould would smuggle his mistresses into the Casino. At the back of the brand new Wellness Center, a giant oak tree is fenced off where Edith collapsed and died. Legend has it that she came upon the entrance to one of the tunnels and the shock was too much for her to bear in her tight corset. Whatever the sad truth may be, the branches of the tree now grow down into the ground and back up at the very spot where she died and the tree is fenced off because touching it is supposed to bring very bad luck. At a recent CAB (Campus Activities Board) event, a visiting comedian leapt over the fence and touched the cursed tree. –He is survived by his loving mother and three illegitimate children.
GCU is primarily a commuter school with only about 400 residents housed in its three dormitory halls. While there is a certain amount of competitiveness among students who prefer to room in St. Catherine’s, the newest of the halls, the hierarchy is mostly based on seniority with upperclassmen having preference. There is a complicated lottery system for newer residents and students hoping for a single room. Still, off-campus housing remains the most prevalent choice.
Residents tend to hail from the extreme tips of New Jersey with a few out-of-state students who remain on campus most weekends. During the holidays it is a ghost town and only one residence hall is kept open in summer. GCU offers part-time work-study positions as a part of student’s financial aid package and students receive a paycheck for work performed. During the summer, GCU goes the extra mile for its international and out-of-state students as well as those with difficult home situations by keeping them employed part-time through work-study and providing year-round housing.
While the campus seems quite on weekends, the Student Government Association and Campus Activities Board work hard to keep residents entertained with evening and weekend events such as “What About Wednesday?” which could be anything from a stand-up comic to a concert or recreation of a game show in which students earn money and prizes. According to Catherine Quinn who is a resident and member of SGA, “There is a ton of stuff going on, the problem is lack of communication.” Catherine believes the problem with attendance is the lack of effective advertising of events to the GCU community. Still, as a senior who has lived on campus all four years, Catherine says she has no complaints about dorm life, other than the necessary evil of the “no male, overnight visitors” rule.