All hands on deck as record number of students ‘Move-In’ to residence halls

August 21, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

By Cooper Nelson
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University will need an army to move the largest student body in school history on to the Phoenix ground campus this week.

Students who descend on campus during the two-day New Student Move-In Event on Thursday and Friday will help shape a record ground campus enrollment of nearly 8,500 students. Other students are already moved in or moving in on Saturday.

This fall’s freshman class of more than 3,000 students is the largest in GCU history. Of those, 2,180 will live in seven campus residence halls – including the brand new Saguaro and Chaparral dormitories.


GCU expects to host a record number of freshmen during Move-In events Thursday and Friday. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

Nearly 1,600 GCU students, faculty and staff will assist in moving students’ belongings from their cars to their new homes. The bulk of the University community will assist with move-in, from staff, faculty and athletes, to deans and GCU executives. President and CEO Brian Mueller is commonly seen, sleeves rolled and brow glistening, as a volunteer “Luggage Lugger.”

Move-In has been a long-standing tradition for the University to welcome new students to campus. John-Paul Reiger, GCU’s director of residence life, said the Christian servant principles of the University are reflected in the spirit of the event.

“As we have grown, we have tried to retain who we are (as a university),” Reiger said. “We have worked really hard to keep up the community feel and continue serving the growing student body now and even back when we were moving only 100 students.”

Move-In is a full-day affair, beginning at 7 a.m. Volunteers arrive on campus at dawn on Thursday to await the first line of cars at the new Chaparral Hall before shifting to Canyon Hall at 10 a.m. Nearly 1,000 students are expected to move into the two dorms on Thursday.

Volunteers return Friday to move more than 1,300 students into the remaining five residence halls.

“Every year, more and more people step up to help. It’s just all hands on deck for the University,” said Sarah Thatcher, student involvement manager who is in charge of organizing Welcome Week. Thatcher said the goal is to move belongings from cars to dorms in less than 10 minutes.

“There are a lot of people that help students in the process of moving in, from (resident assistants) to faculty and staff that move them in and greet them and help set up. We are very blessed in that way,” she said.

Move-In includes a number of activities to introduce new students to campus, like the Dip with Papa John’s Pizza pool party, Ice Cream Social, Raising Canes Student Picnic and Midnight Color Party. GCU freshmen will launch the inaugural “Ignite” candle-lighting ceremony on the intramural field Friday evening. Dean of Students Pastor Tim Griffin will welcome freshmen to campus before lighting a student’s candle that will in turn be used to light the candles of the entire incoming freshman class.

Reiger said last year’s Move-In was the most efficient ever at GCU, though he expects to improve efforts this year.

“That is GCU. That is who we are,” Reiger said. “We want to make sure that each student has a good experience from the moment they step on campus to the day they leave. We want that first day to be a springboard for the rest of the year.”

Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or

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