Employee meeting shows how busy GCU has been
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
It has been, in the words of President Brian Mueller, “an unbelievable 90 days” for Grand Canyon University, and he spelled it out in just 75 minutes Friday at the all-employee meeting at GCU Arena.
During those three months, the University participated in its decennial visits by the Higher Learning Commission and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education as well as visits by a team examining GCU’s transition to NCAA Division I athletics, the Association of Theological Schools, and a Veterans Administration (VA) audit.
That’s five major visits in three months, plus all the other things going on at the University — which is a lot. Mueller said the visits went very well and thanked all involved for the massive amount of work required to prepare for them.
Mueller also shared updates Friday on a number of key initiatives:
- The University had 82,422 students as of Sept. 30, 2016, a jump of 9.8 percent from the previous year. The breakdown is 65,038 online (9.1 percent rise from 2015) and 17,384 on campus (12.4 percent higher).
- The University continues to create more jobs. There are now 9,378 employees (3,848 full-time, 3,156 part-time and 2,374 student workers), and the overall number is projected to reach 10,549 by 2019.
- Employees, their spouses and their dependent children continue to derive tremendous benefits as employees at the University, including free tuition if they attend GCU, and the value of those benefits in 2016 was $18 million (1,219 employees and 1,122 employee dependents participated).
- The national average for salary increases since 2010 is 2 percent per year; even though GCU has not raised its ground campus tuition, and only nominally increased its online tuition, during this time period, GCU salaries have increased on average 15.1 percent while a number of departments have seen average salary increases even higher than that. In addition, 329 employees received promotions in the last year.
- GCU’s growth is also being reflected in what the University refers to as the total gain to taxpayers, which was $197.3 million in 2014 and $251.1 million last year. The University’s estimated economic impact over a 10-year time period between 2010 and 2019 is more than $11 billion, according to a study by Elliott Pollack & Co.
- Loan default rates continue to decline, falling from 19 percent in 2010 to 9.2 percent last year.
- The efficiency of the application and acceptance process improved even more. Through the Transcript Evaluation System, 43,749 transcripts were evaluated in the second half of 2016 alone. “We’re able to evaluate transcripts in real time in minutes,” Mueller said. In addition, in the most recent analysis of the University’s evaluation metrics, 100 percent of prospective students completed a net price calculator, ensuring complete transparency in the cost of their education.
- Hank Radda, GCU’s provost, reported that the University launched 35 new degree programs last year and plans to start 24 more this year.
The meeting also included several videos of highlights from the fall semester, including the University’s community involvement, its partnership with Habitat for Humanity, and the rise of the Havocs student cheering section (with University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino calling it “the toughest crowd I’ve ever faced”).
The devotion to GCU’s neighborhood is particularly important to Mueller, who said, “You can preach the gospel with 80 to 90 percent more effectiveness when you do these things than when you just preach.”
Growth is an important aspect of any GCU meeting, and that was noted in slides showing all of the recent additions to the campus: a 170,000-square-foot engineering building, a 250,000-square-foot office building at the University’s 27th Avenue complex, GCU Stadium, the Student Life Building, GCU Hotel, Canyon 49 Grill and GCU Golf Course.
Three new athletic facilities are on track to open in the next three months — a beach volleyball stadium, a softball stadium and a basketball practice facility, which will include a museum devoted to the life of Jerry Colangelo, the Phoenix business icon who is closely associated with the University.
All this has been done even though the University recently announced that a tuition freeze will continue for the ninth straight year at its traditional ground campus, and Mueller praised employees for their dedication and efficiency.
But, reiterating his message at Chapel on the previous Monday, Mueller also said, “This doesn’t happen because of great leadership. This happens because God has His hand on this place.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.