A year to remember: GCU’s Top 10 stories of 2014-15
GCU Today Magazine
Photos by Darryl Webb
There was no shortage of news at Grand Canyon University during the 2014-15 academic year. And it was no easy decision picking the Top 10 stories from the dozens that were produced by GCU Today. But those that emphasized community, growth and reputation quickly rose to the top. Here they are:
1. GCU revs economic engine in west Phoenix
The University announced a five-point plan to revitalize the neighborhood, continued expanding its campus along the Canyon Corridor, agreed to operate and began renovating Maryvale Golf Course, and opened a hotel to train students in hospitality management and employ local residents. A study credited GCU with an annual economic impact of $1.1 billion that generates 10,490 jobs, with wages approaching $500 million per year.
2. What’s in a name? A lot, when it’s Colangelo
GCU’s business school was renamed for Phoenix icon Jerry Colangelo, whose principles of servant leadership, ethics and entrepreneurship became as ingrained into campus life as he did in just a few short months. As part of the hospitality curriculum, the college also announced plans for golf course and tennis management programs.
3. It’s full STEM ahead as 8th college opens
Determined to fill high-tech employment gaps, GCU launched the College of Science, Engineering and Technology and introduced programs in computer science, information technology and engineering. The University also opened medical school slots for qualified CSET grads in a deal with Glendale’s Midwestern University and was lauded by the Obama administration for STEM Scholars, a partnership with high schools that awards college credits to worthy teens.
4. Building community through Habitat project
The University formed a unique partnership with Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona to involve neighborhood residents, students and staff in the renovation of hundreds of homes. At the first workday in January, 200 volunteers tore down fences, erected siding, painted and cleaned up. By the end of the semester, 25 homes had been improved with 10 more pending over the summer.
5. Record numbers sum up rise in enrollment
GCU welcomed a record 6,200 students into the residence halls during three days of Move-In in August, bringing total ground enrollment to nearly 11,000, up from 8,200 in 2013-14. The growth necessitated the University’s first winter commencement. The number of online students grew to about 55,000.
6. Return to nonprofit status considered
The administration formed an independent committee to investigate alternatives to its investment-based business model, including a return to nonprofit status, which the University held from 1949 to 2004. The decision would not impact GCU’s upward academic trajectory, online operations, partnerships, outreach or future plans to grow ground enrollment to 25,000, GCU executives said.
7. Explosive growth continues with building boom
To prepare for the growth in the number of students living on campus, the University built three new dorms, another classroom building, two more campus eateries and a second parking garage. More than 2,000 seats were added to GCU Arena, and construction began on four six-story residence halls, an engineering building and a third parking garage. (See pages 14-19 for details)
8. Men’s basketball program leaps even higher
The men’s basketball team debuted on the national stage when it played Kentucky at legendary Rupp Arena. The Lopes finished 17-15, were second in the Western Athletic Conference for the first time and received their second consecutive postseason tournament invitation. Moreover, the University highlighted and made financial contributions to a dozen local charities at home games.
9. Center for Worship Arts makes beautiful music
The University’s new Center for Worship Arts, which scored the music education equivalent of a Grammy Award by hiring MercyMe founder and lead singer Bart Millard as its director, got off to a strong start and crescendoed with “Showcase” events at the end of each semester. The center also released its first extended play, “Canyon Worship.” Students are training for careers in the industry, from worship leaders and lighting techs to songwriters and national recording artists.
10. No arguing with success of speech and debate team
In just its second year, GCU’s speech and debate team continued to shine, ranking No. 15 in the country after a strong showing at the prestigious Pi Kappa Delta national championships and winning a second straight championship in individual events at the national Christian colleges tournament in March.