Author Archives: Gail Towns

About Gail Towns

Gail H. Towns is the director of marketing and communications for Georgian Court University.

GCU Professor Examines the Role of Peace, Dissent During World War I

 GCU’s Dr. Scott Bennett on Peace—In Time of War

Scott Bennett, PH.D.

Historian Scott Bennett, Ph.D., is also an expert on radical pacifism and nonviolence since World War I.

How did dissenters and peace activists fare during World War I? Not so well, said GCU history professor Scott Bennett, Ph.D., in an interview with journalist Ann Jones of the Australian Broadcast Company. Hear his commentary on “The Enemy Within,” which aired internationally in June 2014. (Dr. Bennett’s segment begins at 38:40.)

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Committed to Quality, Excellence and Student Success

(June 17, 2014) LAKEWOOD, NJ—Recent coverage of rankings released by the National Council on Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report note that many organizations, including the GCU School of Education, declined to provide data.

GCU is among several colleges in New Jersey which have opted out of cooperating with NCTQ because they do not believe the group is truly interested in the outcomes of students in the classroom, explains GCU Provost, Dr. Bill Behre.

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(May 1, Lakewood, N.J.) —  When Covenant House President Kevin Ryan visited Georgian Court last year and spoke about the myriad problems associated with teen homelessness, GCU students did more than just listen.

They decided to sleep outdoors for a night as a show of support for the 2 million young people in the U.S. and Canada who run away or are kicked out of their homes each year and ultimately end up homeless and hungry.

“On Friday, May 2, Georgian Court students will be supplied with a cardboard box to sleep on overnight on the Great Lawn,” said David Schenck, a 19-year-old biology major from Manchester. “They are allowed to bring a blanket, but no pillow, as we really are trying to emphasize what it is truly like to be homeless.”

The effort is one of many affiliated with Covenant House, the largest provider of services to homeless and trafficked youth throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Also called a “solidarity sleep out,” the activity is intended to underscore the plight of homeless teens and their daily struggle for basic human rights.

The event, which will include only GCU students, begins with a 7 p.m. talk by Covenant House Ambassador Jennifer Williams of South Jersey. A candlelight vigil will be led by GCU Campus Ministry Director Jeff Schaeffer, followed by poetry readings and group discussions in the North Dining Room.

The evening concludes with GCU students sleeping on the Great Lawn. Participants are asking for donors to contribute resources—from money to toiletries to clothing—to help homeless teens.

“Every little bit helps, and even raising awareness will help this issue get the attention it deserves,” said David.

Creating Social Change Through Art: National Water Dance 2014

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Members of the Georgian Court University Department of Dance will join students from other universities, private dance schools, colleges, elementary schools, and dance companies across the nation as participants in National Water Dance, Saturday, April 12 at 4 p.m.

GCU’s dancers, led by department director Silvana Cardell, will perform near the Wellness Center pond on Georgian Court’s historic Lakewood campus as others nationwide— from the University of Alaska to those at Bates College in Maine—perform their own simultaneous, site-specific dance at local rivers, bays, lakes, ocean fronts, or other water sites.

Artistic director Dale Andree and producer Daniel Lewis aim to make the National Water Dance a “spectacular celebration of arts in action designed to initiate a national ‘water ethic’ in the U.S.—one that can inform and inspire both participants and audience members to take responsibility for conserving and protecting the water that they use and enjoy.” At the same time, “participants experience dance as a form of social activism, an opportunity to be part of a movement choir that creates social change through art.”

According to organizers, National Water Dance began in 2011 as a local event, initiated by Miami’s New World School of the Arts, to bring attention to the power and fragility of Florida’s waterways. Since then, the event has grown to involve more than 80 institutions in 30 states.

For more information, contact Silvana Cardell, Assistant Professor/Director of Dance, at 732.987.2170.

Focus on Mind-Body-Spirit at GCU’s 2014 Wellness Expo
download the schedule of events (pdf)

wellness_expo 2 wellness_expo 1 Wellness_Expo 3Lakewood, N.J., Apr. 4, 2014—Learn to clear clutter to transform your life or unlock the “six absolutely minimal necessities” to sustain health and inner joy during Georgian Court University’s annual Wellness Expo, sponsored by the Department of Holistic Health Studies, Saturday, April 12.

Now in its third year, the day-long showcase is slated for 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Casino building on GCU’s historic Lakewood campus. It is free and open to the public.

Participants can take advantage of a full day of presentations, including yoga classes for adults and children, and discussions that address weight loss, chronic disease prevention, Chinese healing art, chiropractic aromatherapy, thermography for breast health and many other topics.

In addition to hearing from presenters, participants can also visit with local vendors, consultants and practitioners who promote some aspect of holistic health.

“Wellness has diverse meanings for people and to attain optimum wellness throughout one’s life may be a fulltime job for some,” said Sachiko Komagata, Ph.D., director of GCU’s holistic health graduate program. “We hope that may find something or someone who may trigger their motivation to learn more about lifelong wellness.”

Visitors can also learn more about GCU’s coursework in holistic health. The university offers a master’s degree in holistic health, which can be earned in person or online. Students can also earn an undergraduate or graduate certificate in the field, which focuses on mind-body-spirit integration, quality of life and complementary (traditional) health care.

“Since 2004, we have graduated more than 100 dedicated and talent individuals who found unique value and meaning in pursuing the art and science of holistic health studies,” said Dr. Komagata.

Both the ‘art’ and the ‘science’ are incorporated in the Wellness Expo lineup for day, which begins at 11:15 a.m. with a guided meditation session by Wendy Koreyva from the Crystal Lotus Healing arts Studio in Sea Girt. Other activities follow, including a noon yoga outing for children with Sudha Allitt; qigong at 1 p.m. with Daoist Priest Darren Orr, a doctor of Chinese medicine; and even a session on self-care for caregivers with Suzanne McMurray, R.N.

Pre-registration is not required. For detailed information about the expo, visit the GCU Holistic Health Facebook group at or e-mail Dr. Komagata at

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court announced in May 2012 its transition to a fully coeducational university in 2013. Today, the university serves nearly 2,500 students of all faiths and backgrounds in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court’s main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at the New Jersey Coastal Communiversity in Wall.


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GCU Dancers Shine at American Dance College Festival

March 16, 2014 — Georgian Court University dance majors recently performed Regions of Light, an original work by GCU Artist-in-Residence Caitlin Quinn Pittenger, during the American College Dance Festival northeast regional conference at The College of Brockport.


During the March 14-16 event, GCU students competed against and took classes with dancers from Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, Temple University, Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Fairleigh Dickinson University and more than 30 other schools.

“This is the one place where the best college dance programs come together each year,” said Silvana Cardell, director of the Georgian Court University dance program. “It is an incredible honor for our dancers to showcase not only their own talent, but also the choreography of Caitlin Quinn Pittenger. This is one of many examples where GCU dance faculty link academic instruction and studio preparation to real world experience and exposure.”

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Pope Francis: The ‘Right Man for the Right Time’

Catholicism Expert Christopher Bellitto to Discuss Pope Francis at Georgian Court

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 6.13.30 PMLakewood, N.J., March 3, 2014—In his role as the world’s foremost religious leader, Pope Francis continues to challenge perceptions and expectations of the papacy, according to church history expert Christopher Bellitto, Ph.D. Dr. Bellitto, chair and associate professor of history at Kean University, is the guest speaker for “Pope Francis: Reflections on a New Papacy” at Georgian Court University, Tuesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. The event, which takes place on GCU’s historic Lakewood campus, is free and open to the public.

“At the one-year mark, there’s always a story, and with Pope Francis, the story isn’t disappointment,” said Dr. Bellitto, who also speaks extensively with the national media on matters of contemporary Catholicism. “He’s a really savvy leader.”
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GCU Students to Donors: ‘Thanks for Giving!’

FEBRUARY 27, 2014 (Lakewood, NJ) — Georgian Court University students are promoting Lion Loyalty Day as they mark Feb. 27’s internationally celebrated Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day. Many of GCU’s participants are student leaders with the university’s Phone-a-Thon campaigns and fundraising drives, and some are also organizing Georgian Court’s new young alumni initiative.

“Engaging students in philanthropy is a wonderful way to inspire the importance of giving back,” said Mellissia M. Zanjani, Ph.D., CFRE, Vice President of Institutional Advancement. “Georgian Court University is pleased to partner with CASE Affiliated Student Advancement Programs to host Lion Loyalty Day. It will be a day to promote and celebrate the love of humankind and to and help motivate students to become leaders in works of volunteering and philanthropy.”

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Castro’s Daughter Comes to Georgian Court

Alina Fernandez, whose life is chronicled in the book “Castro’s Daughter,” is set to speak at Georgian Court University March 11, 2014.

Georgian Court University welcomes Alina Fernández, daughter of Fidel Castro, Tuesday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public, and tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Admission is free to members of the GCU community, with ID. Reservations are required.

Through her insight as one of the Cuban elite, Ms. Fernández will share her first-person, intimate accounts of growing up in Cuba and discuss her life in Cuba. During her talks, Ms. Fernández often describes the surrounding political climate during the 1960s and 1970s while weaving in her unique sense of style and humor. She also shares exciting and suspenseful anecdotes, snapshots of Cuban society, her inside scoop on Cuban politics, and a detailed view of her father.  Ms. Fernández speaks candidly about her complicated relationship with Castro, who often visited his daughter in the late hours of the night.

Her life is the subject of Castro’s Daughter, An Exile’s Memoir of Cuba (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), and is the focus of a new indie film set to begin production in March 2014.

It is important to note that Ms. Fernández speaks for herself and the people of Cuba with whom she knew over the last 40 years, rather than as an expert on Fidel Castro as the political ruler of Cuba. This is her private story, told from her intensely personal point of view.

To reserve seating, contact the GCU Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732-987-2263 or

Model Student: Oreal Harding

photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4The following post was contributed by Oreal Harding, a December 2012 GCU graduate who completed an internship in the GCU Office of Marketing & Communications. While attending GCU, she also worked parttime at Victoria’s Secret and served in GCU’s Work Study program as a Desk Assistant. Oreal, a former dancer and model for GCU’s annual campus fashion show, blogs about her experience as a 2013 Philly Fashion Week participant:



GCU Student Spotlight- Oreal Harding

PHILADELPHIA (September 2013) — Recently I was chosen to participate in my hometown’s Philly Fashion Week. This whole process started in June when a model friend of mine told me about the casting for Philly Fashion Week.

I made sure that I canceled all of my plans just to make the casting. Once I got there I had to fill out a form about myself and contact information. Then we all sat down and waited until we were told to walk for the judges. I walked twice and just like that I was called up and told that I made it.

After that we had a series of “go sees.” What are those? You walk for designers and if they like you they pick you and get your measurements for their line so you can walk in the show. I believe that we had about 5 or 6 “go sees.”

I wasn’t nervous at all. Being a GCU communication major, I learned a lot, especially when it comes to public speaking and reading people’s verbal and nonverbal expressions. I could tell when a designer liked my walk or not. Also I met a few models who were actually signed under agencies such as Wilhelmina, and Embacy.

Also being apart of GCU’s WILD program (Women in Leadership Development), I  learned the importance of networking and leaving a good impression with people. I met and spoke with models about their agencies and actually met and gave my business card to Embacy Modeling Agency during one of the shows. Continue reading