Here are 2016 Hall of Fame inductees’ stories
GCU Today Magazine
New members of the 2016 Grand Canyon University Alumni Hall of Fame were inducted on Saturday, Feb. 20. Here are their stories:
William “Andy” Unkefer
Class of 1990
Colangelo College of Business
When William “Andy” Unkefer was named to GCU’s Alumni Hall of Fame for the Colangelo College of Business, he burst into tears.
“For me, it was super emotional,” Unkefer said. “The first thought I had was that I probably don’t deserve it. . . . When you get an award (like this) you are held to the highest standards and integrity. It is humbling.”
The award is Unkefer’s latest gift from GCU. It provided the education he needed to found his own insurance marketing company, Unkefer & Associates in Glendale, Ariz. It also gave him the opportunity to take marketing classes with Chad Hilkemeier, now his company’s executive vice president.
“We became lifelong buddies and hoped to work together — and now we do,” Unkefer said. “Chad has impeccable character, and in my book he is the hall of famer.”
GCU also gave him quality time with his high school sweetheart, Amy, who graduated from GCU in 1989 with a teaching degree. They married that summer and have four grown children.
Unkefer loves the Christ-centered focus of Grand Canyon, which then had a student body of about 2,500, a drop in the bucket compared to today’s 15,500 ground students.
One of his best GCU moments was making the basketball team as a walk-on when the coach was Paul Westphal, his hero growing up.
But later that year, Unkefer’s father was sent to jail and no longer could pay his tuition. Disappointed but determined, Unkefer went to Phoenix College for a year, worked three jobs and transferred back to GCU, all on his own dime.
Unkefer believes that developing character as a “servant leader” is what matters. “That’s what GCU is all about,” he said.
Dr. Jim Rice
Class of 1971
College of Education
Dr. Jim Rice’s story at Grand Canyon College actually began during his senior year of high school in 1971, when he didn’t believe more education was in his future.
Rice, who grew up in the neighborhood and went to nearby Alhambra High, had never even talked with his mom, who was raising him as a single parent, about college.
But Rice’s basketball skills did not go unnoticed. Ben Lindsey, then coach of Grand Canyon men’s basketball team, only had to walk across the street to see him play and had been watching him for years.
When Lindsey offered a scholarship, Rice didn’t have to think twice.
“When I look back at what was the turning point in my life, it was Ben Lindsey coming across the street and my high school basketball coach connecting me with him,” Rice said.
At Grand Canyon, he was co-captain, and during his final two seasons he averaged in double digits in both scoring (12.8 points per game) and rebounding (11.0).
After earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1971, Rice dedicated his career to students. For 40 years, as principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent of the Alhambra Elementary School District and as an interim leader of Union Elementary School District, Rice has helped educate future generations.
Rice, a member of GCU’s Board of Directors since 2007, hopes the University will maintain its high graduation rate and continue to emphasize servant leadership so that its new graduates will keep giving back to the community. “I’ve watched this university grow brick by brick,” he said, “and that’s been rewarding.”
Dr. Brian Bucina
Class of 1998
College of Science, Engineering and Technology
Ever since Dr. Brian Bucina began studying pre-medicine at GCU, he knew he wanted to be a surgeon. He also wanted to make a difference.
Today, he has achieved both. He is the only general surgeon at the 25-bed Little Colorado Medical Center in Winslow, Ariz., which borders the Hopi Reservation and the Navajo Nation Reservation and mostly treats Native Americans.
“It’s an underserved area and we have limited resources,” Bucina said. ‘‘We try to serve the community as best we can.”
He also is the center’s surgery chair, founder and medical director of the Wound Care Center and a clinical faculty member at four universities.
Bucina graduated summa cum laude and was GCU’s pre-med club chair. But he feels overwhelmed by the Hall of Fame honor, and he’s still an avid Lopes basketball fan.
“The main reason I chose GCU was I always felt it was the best kept secret in Arizona,” he said. “I guess the secret’s out!”
Classes of 2004 and 2012
John Davis, the most honored men’s golfer in GCU history, has received another accolade: He has been named to the 2016 Athletics Hall of Fame.
The induction comes as Davis, 40, is pursuing a professional golf comeback after a hiatus of more than a dozen years.
He was on the GCU golf team from 1997 to 2001, when he left school to play on the Canadian pro tour. However, a shoulder injury forced him to cut short his career, and he returned to GCU in 2004 to get his bachelor’s degree. Eight years later, he earned his master’s from GCU. Davis and his wife, Lindy, live in Snowflake, Ariz., his hometown, with their five children, ages 6-17. He is trying again to earn his PGA Tour card.
Davis still holds six GCU records, including tournament victories (11) and most rounds of par or better (60), and he made First Team All-America in NCAA Division II his sophomore and junior years and at one point was ranked No. 1 in the country. He said he owes a lot to GCU for offering him a scholarship: “I am grateful that I had an Arizona school that believes in me.”
Dr. Nicholas Markette
Classes of 2008 and 2011
College of Doctoral Studies
Dr. Nicholas Markette earned two degrees from GCU, a master of science in 2008 and a doctor of education in organizational leadership in 2011.
He also got a wife out of the deal: He met Jo, now his second wife, in his doctoral cohort. Markette’s first wife, Victoria, had passed away.
“I got the treble,” he said.
Markette began teaching finance part-time at GCU in 2008, and today he is a GCU senior doctoral adjunct, supervising 24 adjunct faculty members who hold doctorates.
He also is director of finance and strategy for Zenith Media Tracking, which has offices in Seattle and North Las Vegas, Nev., and he coaches high school and club soccer.
“It all started to come into focus for me that this whole exercise, the reason God has us here, is to extend His reach,” Markette said. Being inducted into GCU’s Alumni Hall of Fame is humbling.
“It’s for people who have leapt a building or something amazing,” he said. “I haven’t really done anything amazing.”
Class of 1994
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
As a GCU undergrad, Max Fose studied criminal justice with an eye toward a law enforcement career. But then he started interning for Sen. John McCain in 1992 and fell in love with politics. By the time Fose graduated, he was McCain’s outreach coordinator.
Fose was setting up McCain’s first run for president in 1998 when he tapped into the incredible reach of the Internet. He was the campaign’s national treasurer and digital manager.
“At the time, no one had done that on a national level,” Fose said. “We organized hundreds of thousands of people online and raised millions of dollars.”
A year later, Fose opened IWS, a national ad agency and public affairs company. Clients have included McCain, former Gov. Jan Brewer and the Phoenix Symphony.
“The best thing GCU did for me was put me on a path to being a better person,” Fose said. “It was about spiritual education and being exposed to other people who feel the same way.”
He said he is “in awe, humbled and honored” to be in the Hall of Fame.