By Alexandria Graziosi
On April 9, 2015 Georgian Court University announced the appointment of Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D. as the university’s ninth and newest president. The announcement of the first male and lay president is only the most recent in a series of university firsts. While the 2013 fall semester marked the university’s first semester as a fully coeducational institution, the 2015 fall semester will be the first time in its 107-year history that the university is not led by a Sister of Mercy. It will also be the first time the sisters will not be residing on campus.
In light of all the changes, current students and alumni have begun to express their concerns about the university’s Mercy mission. “Part of what made GCU so special as a women’s university was its focus on empowering women through the Mercy Core Values,” said alumni Robin Walczak 00’. “After going fully coeducational and now having a male president and no sisters living on campus I worry that focus will be lost.” Despite concerns, Evelyn Saul Quinn, university Vice President of Mission Integration maintains that GCU’s Mercy mission will be sustained. As Marbach begins his presidency and the sisters begin their transition to off campus housing, Quinn explains that Mercy will continue to be celebrated as the cornerstone of the university. “The sisters, over the last 107 years, have provided a strong foundation that has been embraced by students, faculty, staff and administrators,” said Quinn of the university’s long standing Mercy tradition. “All of us, as co-ministers, in this Catholic Mercy university have been offered the gift of Mercy to be incorporated into the fabric of our personal and professional lives.”
The Mercy of Georgian Court
As a Catholic Mercy University, Georgian Court strives for its students and faculty to clearly identify who they are as a part of a the community and what Mercy means for each of them individually, Quinn said. “As a community we host orientation sessions, programs, retreats, seminars, professional development opportunities, clubs and organizations that continue to educate and deepen our roots and connections in the world of Mercy,” Quinn added. “The sisters have offered each of us a gift, an environment to grow in Mercy, and have well prepared our community to continue the legacy of Mercy.” The campus’s Mercy-driven atmosphere is hard to articulate but is best explained by the overwhelming feeling of community that surrounds students, faculty, and visitors as they enter.
“Catherine McAuley said, ‘the blessing of unity still dwells among us…this is the spirit of Mercy following us’” commented Chairwoman of Campus Ministry Kerrin McCarthy. “I believe this quote best describes the feeling of Mercy on campus. It is a feeling of unity with each other. A common theme among us.” While many fear that the Mercy mission will be less of a priority in the university’s future, Quinn reminds members of the GCU community that it is everyone’s responsibility to help preserve the long standing tradition. “It is the responsibility of each of us to remain true to that legacy, grow in Mercy, and assure the sustainability of Mercy” said Quinn of maintaining GCU’s tradition of Mercy. As the university continues to develop, its Mercy mission will remain a top priority. As for the new changes, Quinn stated, “We are fortunate that even though the sisters will not be living on campus, we have several sisters who will be teaching and working at Georgian Court University. I am sure their continued commitment, leadership and partnership will be evident and appreciated as we move forward.”
By Alexandria Graziosi On April 9, 2015 Georgian Court University announced the appointment of Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D....