Business awards dinner illuminates GCU’s mission
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University was among 20 former Arizona Business Leadership Award winners honored Tuesday night in a gala dinner at GCU Arena.
The University first received its award in 2013 …
Before the beginning of its partnership with Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, a union that aims to renovate 700 neighborhood homes and has helped raise local home values 30 percent.
Before its Student Inspiring Students initiative started awarding 100 full-tuition scholarships a year to local students.
Before the number of ground campus students had grown to its current total of more than 17,000 and the online student population had mushroomed to more than 65,000.
Before those students had the benefit of the expansion to nine colleges and 220 academic programs.
Before the campus grew from 100 to 270 acres with construction of two engineering and computer science buildings totaling 300,000 square feet, a four-story classroom building that now houses the widely acclaimed Learning Lounge, a music recording studio, 13 residence halls, Lopes Way, the Student Life Building, GCU Stadium and a neighborhood-transforming expansion of facilities at 27th Avenue and Camelback Road that includes the Grand Canyon University Hotel, Canyon 49 Grill and an office complex.
Before the University’s partnership with the Phoenix Police Department reduced the neighborhood crime rate by 30 percent.
Before GCU’s athletic teams began their four-year transition to NCAA Division I, a venture that has produced 12 Western Athletic Conference team championships to date.
Before the University turned a struggling municipal golf course into the highly successful GCU Championship Golf Course.
It even was before the site of the dinner was expanded to 7,200 seats and became nationally known as the place where Havocs reign.
No wonder GCU President Brian Mueller delivers such enthusiastic talks at events of this nature. Mueller was one of several local businesspeople interviewed as part of the program, which honored the last 20 annual award-winners of the Arizona Business Leadership Association (AzBL), and he never tires of sharing the GCU message.
“It’s humbling to be able to represent the efforts of literally thousands of employees and thousands of students,” he said afterward. “I am the messenger, in many cases, but I’m delivering a message on behalf of literally thousands of people who are committed in an extraordinary way to serving other people. It’s very much a privilege to say I represent those kinds of people.”
After a “United by Purpose” video of GCU’s mission was shown, Mueller was interviewed onstage by AzBL board member Katie Scardello of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He explained the five-point plan, initiated in 2015, to grow the University and serve the surrounding neighborhood, but he cited an even higher calling about what has transpired:
“God really has His hand on this place in a very, very mighty way. We couldn’t by ourselves make this happen. When people come here, they come with a much larger purpose.
“It starts with believing that every single human being is made in the image of God and has a purpose, and we’re here to serve every single student, every single faculty member and staff member as if they are made in the image of God. They have a lot of value and they each individually have their own purpose.”
When his interview was over, emcee Lin Sue Cooney said, “It’s so great to hear, from your heart, the mission here at GCU, which obviously is to do more than educate.”
Michelle LaFlam, the AzBL executive director, said the awards were based on four benchmarks: at least $5 million in annual revenue and strong indications of growth, leadership and community service.
The award winners honored Tuesday:
1998: Harkins Theatres
2000: Mobile Mini
2001: Shasta Pools & Spas
2003: Arizona Flooring and Interiors
2005: Universal Technical Institute
2006: T.W. Lewis
2007: Go Daddy
2011: Mayo Clinic
2012: Arizona Diamondbacks
2013: Grand Canyon University
2014: Discount Tire
2015: Sprouts Farmers Market
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.