Author Archives: Gail Towns

About Gail Towns

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


GCU Celebrates Black History Month

(Feb. 21, 2014) Lakewood, NJ—GCU’s Black Student Union will host the university’s Black History Month Celebration on Thursday, February 27 at 6:30pm in the Casino Auditorium.

This year’s theme is 50 Years Forward – A Tribute to the Dream as students celebrate two icons who advanced and awakened the world’s consciousness on issues of social justice, including:

•    MLK_WashingtonDr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader best known for the I Have A Dream speech, given just over 50 years ago when he led over 20,000 Americans in peaceful protest in Washington, D.C.; and
•    mandela1_oNelson Mandela, the civil rights giant who fought against South Africa’s apartheid movement and its racist policies. Imprisoned for 27 years, upon his release Mandela showed the ultimate act of humanity by forgiving his jailers and  directing a campaign of peaceful, nonviolent protests against the South African government.

The general public is invited to join GCU for this special celebration of the legacy and life of both Dr. King and Mr. Mandela. Admission is free to the GCU community and $5 for the general public. For information, contact GCU’s Office of Student Activities at 732-987-2606.

Georgian Court focus of National Catholic Reporter feature

The Court Goes Coed

As part of its fall special section on higher education, the National Catholic Reporter dispatched veteran journalist Patricia LeFevere to find out more about GCU’s transition to coed. In late September she spent a day with students, faculty and staff as she explored the lessons learned and a few surprises that came with the move to coed. Her story offers insight from several sources, including the School of Business, which has seen a significant jump in the number of male students, and soccer players who left their homes in England, Germany and other faraway places to take the field for the GCU Lions.

LeFevere’s story follows recent coverage by the Star-Ledger and the Asbury Park Press, among other media outlets. The National Catholic Reporter article is not published online, but a PDF is provided here as a courtesy.

NOTE TO READERS: If you experience broken links or need hard copies of any media stories mentioned in this post, please contact the GCU Office of Public Information at 732.987.2266.

Homeless Youth Focus of Georgian Court Talk With Kevin Ryan

Covenant House CEO and Tina Kelley, Authors of ‘Almost Home,’ to Speak at GCU

November 18/Update: The 6:30 pm event has been canceled. Please call 732-987-2263 for more information.

Homelessness isn’t just an adult problem—it also weighs on upward of 2 million American children and teenagers who grapple with poverty, abuse, street violence, human trafficking and other social ills. Some of their stories—and the journey to reclaim their lives—are told in Almost Home: From Homelessness to Hope, written by Kevin Ryan, CEO and president of Covenant House International, and Pulitzer Prize winner Tina Kelley. The authors will speak at Georgian Court University in Lakewood Tuesday, Nov. 19. Copies of the book will be available for sale and for signing.

Covenant House helps homeless and trafficked youth throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Several of them are profiled in Mr. Ryan and Ms. Kelley’s 2012 book, which chronicles the lives of young people like Paulie, an Alaska native whose family life was turned upside down by domestic violence, prescription drug abuse and other problems, and Creionna, a teen mother from New Orleans who was displaced after Hurricane Katrina.

“When a place to belong is possible—a place where one is safe and cherished and cared for—life is filled with promise. Home is where we begin, where we land, and where we end—it’s the airstrip for the soaring adventure we call life. That is Covenant House, exactly.”
Kevin Ryan, CEO of Covenant House


Continue reading

Georgian Court Marks ‘Hope & Resilience’ A Year after Sandy

National expert Robert Wicks to speak on resilience; event also honors local residents and organizations

Dr. Wicks, author of "Riding the Dragon" and dozens of other works, is the guest speaker for GCU's Sandy anniversary event.

Dr. Wicks, author of “Riding the Dragon” and dozens of other works, is the guest speaker for GCU’s Sandy anniversary event.

Lakewood, N.J., Oct. 16, 2013— Superstorm Sandy may have delivered its harshest blows to thousands of homes and businesses along the shore, but it also brought the absolute best in untold numbers people and organizations—many of whom will be recognized at “Hope & Resilience: A Year After Sandy,” at 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 27 at Georgian Court University. The free, public event will be held in the Casino on the university’s historic Lakewood campus.

“Georgian Court is joining with neighbors in Ocean and Monmouth counties—to honor representatives of those who suffered and survived, those who were there in the first hours to respond, and those who continue to serve and rebuild,” said GCU President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D. “It is important that we take time to honor the hope and resilience of the human spirit.”

Judging by the widespread advocacy and outreach efforts that continue today to the ubiquitous “Jersey Strong” references in everything from TV commercials to t-shirts, Sandy also spawned a unique sense of community generosity and mental toughness.

Guest speaker Robert Wicks, Psy.D., a Loyola University professor of pastoral care, will explore the issue further during the event. Dr. Wicks, the author of “Riding the Dragon: 10 Lessons for Inner Strength,” is also an expert in the prevention of secondary stress—the pressure that results from reaching out to others in need. He has published more than 40 books and has worked with a wide range of audiences, including nurses and doctors, international relief workers, psychotherapists, educators, and those in the ministry.

Dr. Wicks is expected to share his thoughts on resilience and the essential elements for the “bounce back” after a tragedy, according to event organizer Dr. Richard Ponton, an assistant professor of psychology in the GCU clinical mental health counseling program. The message will be especially inspiring for those who continue to serve those whose lives were devastated by Sandy.

The Sunday, Oct. 27 event kicks off GCU’s 2013 Critical Concerns Week, a four-day schedule of activities exploring Sandy’s impact on the environment and community mental health.

Reservations for “Hope & Resilience: A Year After Sandy” are accepted by e-mailing the GCU Office of Conferences & Special Events at or by calling 732.987.2263. To learn more about the honorees or for additional information, contact the GCU Office of Public Information at 732.987.2266 or

Critical Concerns Week: ‘Hope and Resilience’ After the Storm

Lectures Explore Post-Sandy Challenges, Choices and Sustainability

studentsresearching1Lakewood, N.J., Oct. 16, 2013— The lingering effects of superstorm Sandy go beyond extraordinary economic losses and the rebuilding of homes, businesses, and boardwalks. The impact on the Barnegat Bay and the region’s residents will be lasting as well, according to environmental and community health experts slated to speak Monday, Oct. 28 through Wednesday, Oct. 30 during Critical Concerns Week 2013 at Georgian Court University.

“When it comes to the Bay, there’s the matter of nutrient impacts and how the ecosystem is dramatically changing,” said Louise Wootton, Ph.D., a GCU professor of biology. “During Critical Concerns Week we will hear more about what has happened to Barnegat Bay and how Sandy impacts everything from boating and swimming to everyday life—now and into the future.”

Critical Concerns Week also includes a Sunday, Oct. 27 presentation featuring Loyola University expert Robert Wicks, Psy.D., who will examine the essential elements for a “bounce back” after a crisis, whether it is a natural disaster or a man-made tragedy. Local residents and organizations also will be honored for the relief work and continuing efforts to rebuild.

On Monday, Oct. 28, GCU will focus on the storm’s impact on the Barnegat Bay, which stretches for more than 30 miles through Ocean County. Later in the week, the public will learn more about GCU’s Mercy Garden, an effort to build community and address local poverty and hunger issues. Also, representatives from New Jersey Help & Healing will discuss community health.

“There has been a certain toll on our collective psychology,” said Dr. Wootton. “One of the things we’ll discuss is compassion fatigue. A good example is all of the things we’ve done to help our neighbors and to respond the needs of the many. The initial outpouring caring has evolved into this relentless cycle. New Jersey Help & Healing will be making the public aware of services that are still available.”

While the aftermath of superstorm Sandy is a focal point for Critical Concerns Week 2013, the four-day schedule of events stems from a slate of critical issues outlined by GCU’s sponsoring organization, the Sisters of Mercy. Each year since 2006, GCU has dedicated programs, public events and scholarly study to the Sisters’ special concerns, including women’s issues, the environment, immigration, racism, and nonviolence.

The lineup for Critical Concerns Week 2013 includes:

Sunday, October 27 

1:00-3:00 p.m., GCU Casino
Hope & Resilience: A Year After Sandy, featuring guest speaker Robert Wicks, Psy.D., Professor of Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University. Organizations and individuals who demonstrated extraordinary courage and generosity in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy will be honored.

Monday, October 28 

7:00 p.m., GCU Little Theatre
“Impact Of Sandy on the Ecology of Barnegat Bay,” presented by Willie decamp, chairman and past director of Save Barnegat Bay. Mr. deCamp, a Mantaloking resident who personally experienced some of the suffering and devastation wrought by Sandy, advocates for the protection of the Barnegat Bay watershed.

Tuesday, October 29

Noon, University Chapel
Mass of Remembrance, led by Father Anthony DiPalma, University Chaplain

Time and Place TBA
Mercy Garden: Building Communities, with Rich Mohr, GCU Sustainability Initiatives Educator/Manager

6:00 p.m., Various shore locations

Light Up New Jersey
GCU student leaders and their peers will journey to Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant and other shore locations as they participate in Townsquare Media’s statewide initiative to commemorate the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

 Wednesday, October 30

7:00 p.m., GCU Little Theatre
“Hurricane Sandy: Where Were You Then and Who Are You Now?” with Robin Graham, of New Jersey Hope & Healing, an outreach program sponsored by the state’s Department of Human Services.

For more information about these events or other activities associated with Critical Concerns Week, contact the Louise Wootton, Ph.D., professor of biology and GCU sustainability director, at Media inquiries and requests for high-resolution images may be addressed by the GCU Office of Public Information at 732.987.2266.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and an historic, special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves nearly 2,500 students of all faiths and backgrounds in both undergraduate and graduate programs. The 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 serves students at New Jersey Coastal Communiversity in Wall and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.


# # #

On Her Way: Mariah Iapicco Joins Mercy Volunteers

A Job, A Journey, An Education

GCU education graduate Mariah Iapicco recently accepted a teaching position at a school on a reservation in Arizona. She will spend the 2013-14 academic year as a member of the Mercy Volunteer Corps, a group associated with the Sisters of Mercy. The Monitor of Trenton, our diocesan newspaper, published a story about Mariah.

Below, Mariah talks about her decision and how GCU prepared her for the future:

Mariah (right) recently completed her student teaching and earned her degree in math and education.

Mariah (right) recently completed her student teaching and earned her degree in math and education.

AT THE BEGINNING OF MY SENIOR YEAR, I realized that I wanted to enter into a volunteer program to give back so much that has been given to me.  I wasn’t sure what program to apply for, or if I even would follow through with my idea, but luckily my wish came true: I applied to Mercy Volunteer Corps and got accepted.

I had heard about MVC when 2011 GCU grad Brynn Walzer applied and went to California  when she graduated, but I still was unsure what it truly was. Then GCU Provost Evelyn Quinn had a representative come and speak to students, specifically to those of us involved with GCU’s Mercy Collegiate Society, about the program. That presentation inspired me to want to apply.  After conversations with Evelyn Quinn, Dean of Students Karen Goff, Dean of Student Success Kathleen Boody, and recent GCU graduate Sally Santiago (who is now in law school in Charlotte, N.C.), I decided to follow through and apply for the program. I will be placed in St. Michael’s, Arizona at their high school and I will be teaching math.  I was very lucky with this because this is exactly what I went to school for.  I had the choice of going to Connecticut to teach in an all girls middle school, but I chose to be brave and go farther away.  I will be living on the reservation with them, so I will be a part of their community. I know it will be a wonderful experience. 

For student teaching I was placed at Middletown High School South. I had 3 honors geometry classes, 3 Algebra 2/ Pre-calculus honors courses (two classes condensed into one year), and one Algebra 2 class (lower level students).  Student teaching truly helps us grow as teachers because there is only so much you can learn through textbooks, but being in the field for 15 weeks help you feel comfortable in the classroom and understand how to be an effective teacher.

The GCU School of Education: Always Learning, Always Improving

Screen shot 2013-06-18 at 8.11.02 AM

A word from the GCU School of Education:

Georgian Court University is extremely proud of its teacher preparation program, which is rigorous and accredited. We use multiple measures to assess the quality of our teacher education program and formally monitor program effectiveness annually (Teacher Education Accreditation Council Report – TEAC). The Teacher Education Program at GCU has received full continuing accreditation from TEAC each year since its initial accreditation, and its next site visit is scheduled for AY2013-2014. TEAC is the professional accrediting body for colleges and universities, recognized by the U. S. Department of Education. (Note- CAEP merger in progress- Council for Accreditation of Teacher Preparation)

Georgian Court does and will always support aspiring teachers and the pursuit of academic excellence. We are open to sound, credible standards and want to be challenged by such standards that will help the University better prepare its graduates for tomorrow’s diverse classrooms, aid school districts in knowing where they should target hiring efforts and assist education leaders and policymakers in determining best practices.

In determining the quality of our graduates we use multiple measures:

• Standardized tests (Accuplacer, Praxis I, Praxis II)

• GPA’s

• Course Grades

• Embedded course artifacts, rubrics, portfolios (Taskstream)

• Rating scales (clinical supervisors and cooperating teachers)

• Alumni survey (check satisfaction and preparedness)

Our students know their content. Measured by the scores on Praxis specialty tests; the portfolio of lesson plans in their content area; and the monitoring of their GPA’ as they move through our Gateways.

Our faculty ensures that in all our courses there is a strong focus on learners. Our graduates are dual certified- trained in working with students with special needs; they learn the research based strategies to insure that they practice culturally responsive teaching; they learn to plan instruction effectively for diverse learners; there are multiple field experiences (60 hours; 90 hours; and 15 weeks of student teaching). During these field experiences, cooperating teachers and clinical supervisors comprehensively observe them.

At Georgian Court University, we believe that all students have a right to quality education; that all students are capable of learning, and that all students learn best in classrooms that reflect the social, ethnic, racial, religious, and ability dimensions represented in our society. As a result, all of GCU’s pre-service teacher education integrates the knowledge and skills needed for teaching in general education and special education and leads to eligibility for instructional certificates in both. Our graduates meet the “highly qualified” criteria to teach in general education, inclusive classrooms, and in special education settings. The programs in instruction and educational services are guided by the NJ Professional Standards for Teachers. By the time they have completed their programs, candidates are able to present evidence that they have achieved all standards successfully.

In addition to other evidence and more formal evaluations, we maintain professional connections and relationships with practitioners at all levels, in both public and private schools regionally. We receive solicited and unsolicited feedback about our graduates and program completers frequently. It is overwhelmingly positive. This year alone, we have three student teacher finalists who will represent GCU for the 2013 New Jersey Distinguished Student Teacher Award.

Mariah (right) recently completed her student teaching and earned her degree in math and education.

Mariah (right) recently completed her student teaching and earned her degree in math and education.

Read more about the Georgian Court University School of Education and discover more about the success of our graduates. If you’re an alumnus, leave a comment—we’d love to hear more about your own successes in and outside of the classroom as well.

“The Final Lesson: Khristie Caola”
“Making a Difference: Katie Laurino”
“On Her Way: Mariah Iapicco”

An Exercise in Preparation: Georgian Court and Lakewood F.D.

Emergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court University
Emergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court University
Emergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court UniversityEmergency fire drill at Georgian Court University

Fire drill_Maria Hall, a set on Flickr.

ON WHAT SEEMED TO BE A CLEAR, SUNNY SUMMER MORNING at Georgian Court, all of a sudden there was commotion. And then fire trucks and medical personnel—-all in preparation for disaster on campus.

About 45 firefighters and first responders participated in a June 9 emergency drill, which simulated a residence hall fire on the second floor of Maria Hall, home to about 210 sophomores and juniors. The 9:40 a.m. general alarm drew a GCU security officer to the scene, who was unresponsive by the time firefighters arrived.

There were multiple live victims who needed oxygen and first aid, and at least one burn victim who had to be evacuated by a helicopter; two other victims were discovered unconscious in a bathroom and in a dormitory room, and one firefighter was trapped when a ceiling collapsed. This activated the FAST team rescue unit from nearby Brick—the unit that is responsible solely for rescuing fire personnel.

After 45 minutes, the “fire” was contained and everyone was removed safely from the building.

Continue reading

Making a difference: Katie Laurino



Katie Laurino with some of her students.

During her years as a Girl Scout, Katie Laurino befriended a girl who was deaf. Even as a child, she felt that no matter our differences, all people should be treated with respect and kindness.

Fast forward a few decades and the 30-year-old founder of The Creative Arts Project (CAP) still feels the same way. Everyone deserves decency and acceptance, especially the children with special needs who are enrolled in her music, dance and movement program in Point Pleasant.

“The parents are very appreciative,” said Katie, who launched CAP in September 2011. “With schedules that typically center around doctor visits and therapy appointments, the parents love that the Creative Arts Project offers their kids a place to just be themselves. “CAP offers children facing different life challenges the same quality instruction that typical children access on a daily basis.”

Continue reading