Chapel: Mueller has vision for ‘new’ GCU
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University President/CEO Brian Mueller said he was talking recently with Dr. Gil Stafford, his predecessor as University president, when the subject of GCU’s evolution came up.
“He told me that the old Grand Canyon, as good as it was, had to die before the new Grand Canyon could come alive,” Mueller said.
Mueller laid out his vision for the “new” GCU on Monday during the final Chapel of the summer before an overflow crowd of 125 in Tell Science building. He is so intent on this transformation, he said it potentially could make it necessary to rewrite the University’s mission statement.
The plan is big, bold and designed to combat two important trends among young people: Too many of them aren’t going to church, and they tend to be dissatisfied with their jobs after graduation.
“It’s almost like the way we did church and the way we did Christian universities for so many years has to die before we can come up with something to take its place,” Mueller said, drawing from Stafford’s view.
Mueller cited nine passages from Genesis to underscore the importance of work in the eyes of God.
“The theme of work is dominant in the creation story,” he said.
Work that pleases God comes in many forms. For too long, Mueller said, the popular view has been that the only truly “meaningful” work was done by the clergy. His goal for GCU is to create a “theology of work and calling that could create a distinctiveness of our students” across many vocations.
This new theology would embrace the idea that starting at the bottom in the job market is not necessarily a bad thing. In today’s world, Mueller said, graduates can’t all expect to get top jobs when they first come out of a university. Instead, he’d like to see them look for ways to give glory to God by doing their best in whatever work they do and using that attitude as a springboard to success.
“What do we tell students when they come to campus every year? We say, ‘Chase your dreams,’” Mueller said. “But it’s God’s world and it’s His dream. It’s not about us. It’s about God’s work. It’s about the common good. “Students come here thinking it’s about them, and it’s not. The best thing we could teach them is that it’s about God.”
Mueller also said GCU should continue to be open to admitting non-Christian students with the idea that they can positively impact the world, and GCU can have a positive impact on them and possibly convert them into Christians.
“Jesus redeemed the whole world, not just Christians,” he said, telling employees that “the work you do alongside them (non-Christians) will become your greatest witness.” GCU’s new College of Science, Engineering and Technology is designed, Mueller said, to increase the creativity of students. His plan for the University certainly has its share of creativity as well.
The first mission is obvious: GCU figures to keep growing rapidly, up to 30,000 students by 2025. But Mueller also wants the University to continue to attack the crime problem in west Phoenix and invest in local education, and to create businesses to employ local people.
He also wants to generate more opportunities for students to help families who live near campus. “I know these are lofty goals,” he said, “but I think we can pull it off.”
Contact Rick Vacek at 602.639.8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.