GCU ready for largest group of incoming students
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University will welcome the largest group of incoming students in its history when classes resume Aug. 25 on the burgeoning Phoenix campus.
GCU’s class of 5,500 new students carries an average incoming GPA of more than 3.5 and will have several new academic programs to choose from. The school is ramping up its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) offerings with degrees in computer science and information technology in 2014-15, followed by three engineering programs the following year.
In addition, GCU is launching its Center for Worship Arts this fall. The Worship Arts program, under the leadership of MercyMe founder and lead singer Bart Millard, will prepare students for careers ranging from national recording artists and songwriters to audio and lighting technicians and worship leaders at local churches.
To prepare for the influx of new students — which brings total enrollment on the traditional Phoenix campus to a record of nearly 11,000 — GCU has added three new residence halls, a classroom building and a parking garage for the 2014-15 school year.
“The student demand for what we’re doing here on our Phoenix campus just continues to grow,” said Brian Mueller, president and CEO of Grand Canyon. “We’re finding that there’s no end to the interest in obtaining high-quality Christian education that is also affordable.”
GCU has frozen tuition on its ground campus for six straight years — students pay an average of $7,800 per year in tuition after institutional scholarships — while also investing $400 million into the campus infrastructure during that time. The university plans to spend another $400 million in capital expenditures during the next five years, growing its Phoenix campus to 25,000 students while also opening a satellite campus in the East Valley of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Incoming students will be greeted by Welcome Week activities that include GCU’s traditional Move-In experience, dive-in movies at the pool, an Ignite candle-lit ceremony, a free concert on Saturday, Aug. 23 at GCU Arena by the crossover alternative rock band Switchfoot, and the university’s largest Chapel service ever on Monday, Aug. 25.
Move-In is a GCU tradition in which more than 2,000 faculty, staff and student volunteers assist new students by hauling furniture and luggage to their dorm rooms. The process, which resembles a NASCAR pit stop, takes only a few minutes as volunteers descend upon a vehicle, unload everything and take it to the student’s dorm room — well before parents have time to park the car and rejoin their son or daughter.
“The GCU community really turns out to welcome our new students,” said Tim Griffin, GCU’s pastor and dean of students. “It really saves the parents and students a lot of time and energy and makes them feel part of the GCU community right from the beginning.
“Students who experienced Move-In as freshmen come back out to volunteer and pay it forward to the next incoming class. Our faculty and staff are all chipping in. Even our president, Brian Mueller, rolls up his sleeves and helps lug luggage. That’s just who we are as a university.”
The first Chapel service could test the capacity of GCU Arena, which was renovated over the past six months to add an upper deck and increase capacity to about 7,000 seats. Mueller said construction crews worked overtime in order to have the massive project completed in time for the start of school.
“It’s going to be such a rallying point for the University, the way we’re kicking it off,” Mueller said. “Welcome Week and the Switchfoot concert, with students and parents and staff all there, it’s going to be great. And then to have Chapel in there on Monday — that sends a real strong message to the community. That’s how we want to start our week.”