Editor’s note: This story is reprinted from the May issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.
As Grand Canyon University keeps growing, so does its solid reputation in the neighborhood and across the nation. Here are the top 10 stories from the 2016-17 academic year:
1. From blight to highlight
Once a crime-ridden eyesore, the northeast corner of 27th Avenue and Camelback Road is transformed into a community cornerstone featuring the GCU Hotel’s new lobby, resort pool and Canyon 49 Grill and a massive office building that consolidates University employees.
2. Prayer + science = growth
The opening of Grand Canyon Theological Seminary and the state-of-the-art Engineering Building are just two of the reasons behind the number of new degree and research programs, many of them in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.
3. Outreach figures into equation, too
The Habitat for Humanity project surpasses 100 renovated homes, the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer clears the $500,000 mark in fundraising and the Learning Lounge extends its reach to 55 schools. Also rising: neighborhood home values. Falling: the crime rate.
4. Havocs make noise nationally
The Havocs keep growing, and then their reputation goes viral when Louisville coach Rick Pitino calls GCU’s student cheer section “the toughest crowd I’ve ever faced.” Before long, USA Today is sending a reporter to see it first-hand — and the reaction is exactly the same.
5. Building momentum
Walk anywhere on campus and you can see a building or facility that became available this year: The list includes GCU Stadium, the Student Life Building, engineering, three more residence halls, softball and beach volleyball stadiums, tennis courts and a basketball practice facility, including the Jerry Colangelo Museum.
6. A big selling point
Entrepreneurship continues to thrive as a student-led company called Storage Together wins an international competition, the IDEA Club keeps growing, the New Business Development Center helps local startups and an innovation center is planned for 27th Avenue.
7. Something’s brewing with dining options
The first student-run business on campus, Grand Canyon Beverage Company, is a big hit and quickly expands to two more outlets. The list of food options, especially healthy ones, continues to grow with such tasty choices as Simple Servings, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and farmers’ markets.
8. Let the records show …
In their final year of waiting for full Division I eligibility, GCU athletic teams show they’re ready. The men’s basketball team raises its record the last two seasons to 49-16, track and field sweeps the Western Athletic Conference indoor titles for the second consecutive year, and women’s tennis also wins the WAC.
9. Protecting and serving
Students return to campus from summer break and find that they are protected by GCU’s newly independent, 177-member police department, with Kenny Laird appointed as its first chief. Later, the “Coffee with a Cop” program gives students a chance to get to know officers better.
10. Walking the talk
The Speech and Debate Team gets its first opportunity to host the National Christian College Forensics Invitational and breaks numerous school records. The following week, it finishes 14th out of 179 schools after the National Parliamentary Debate Association Championships.
- GCU TV debuts and becomes go-to portal for University games and events
- GCU holds first TEDx, at which 18 speakers talk about a variety of subjects
- Tuition frozen for ninth straight year
- Alhambra High School, with help from GCU’s Learning Lounge, named Gold School by Future of Arizona’s Beat the Odds Institute
- GCU President Brian Mueller named Business Leader of Year at Governor’s Celebration of Innovation
- Ethington Theatre stages strong performances, climaxed by sold-out “West Side Story”