College will host graduation

LAKEWOOD — More than 400 graduate and undergraduate students will receive degrees from Georgian Court University on May 20. The university’s commencement ceremonies begin at noon and will include a number of dignitaries and special guests, including the Most Rev. John M. Smith, bishop of Trenton; guest speaker Brian Buckelew, senior vice president of Commerce Bank; and commencement speaker Virginia S. Bauer, CEO and secretary of the New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism Commission.

Honorary degrees will be bestowed upon Bauer as well as class of 1964 alumna Ellen Mullane Gallagher and husband Jerry Gallagher.

The celebration will begin with an invocation by Smith, followed by greetings by Buckelew. The Address on Behalf of Students will be given by Mary Mewherter, president of the university’s Student Government Association. Diane Szubrowski, president of the New Jersey Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy, will give a blessing of the graduates.

The Georgian Court University Concert Band will perform throughout the day, led alternately by conductor Wilbur Wittemann, senior Tamara Struk and junior Nicole Rossbach.

Bauer will deliver the commencement address to the students. Her rise to one of the top jobs in the New Jersey cabinet is a story of strength in the face of adversity. After her husband was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, Bauer became a leading advocate for the victims of the terrorist attacks, working closely with Congres-sional leaders and the White House. Before she was appointed to her current position with the New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism Commis-sion in 2003, she was head of the New Jersey State Lottery, overseeing that agency’s most successful sales year ever. Bauer will receive an honorary degree from Georgian Court University during the commencement exercises.

Another honorary degree will be bestowed jointly upon Ellen Mullane Gallagher and her husband, Jerry Gallagher. Mr. and Mrs. Gallagher are founders of The Gallagher Foundation, which funds two scholarships at Georgian Court, including the twice-annual Ellen Mullane Scholarship and the Anne White Mullane Scholarship, an endowed scholarship created in memory of Ellen’s mother, who was also an alumna. The honorary degree will be given in recognition of the Gallaghers’ commitment and service to the university, as well as in recognition of their foundation’s vision to promote peace and prosperity through education.

“We are honored to have Secretary Bauer join us as our commencement speaker. She is a remarkable example of how an individual can turn a terrible tragedy into a catalyst for positive change,” said Sister Rosemary Jeffries, president of the university. “It is my hope that students will take with them her lessons of strength, courage and perse-verance.”