By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
With much pomp and circumstance, Grand Canyon University on Tuesday honored 300 employees who were named to its 2017 All-Star Team.
Celebrating the leaders and innovators nominated by deans and department heads is the start of a new University tradition, a way to congratulate those who have shown dedication and results and inspire others.
They are university counselors, operational support members, engineering professors and multimedia producers, curriculum coordinators, financial analysts and college directors. They come from nearly every department and college at GCU.
They are people like people like Deann Hart, a technical services librarian who plays the horn for the University’s Wind Ensemble and sings with the Canyon Choral Society. GCU, she said, offers the freedom to express her Christian views.
“This is an institution that reflects my values,” Hart said. “I like being able to say the name ‘Jesus’ out loud.”
They are professors like Dr. Isac Artzi from the College of Science Engineering and Technology, who helped create a curriculum that has been a home run for graduates.
“I was lucky enough to be part of the team that created the curriculum that I’m now teaching,” Artzi said. “We created a big-data science curriculum that’s a bingo, 100 percent. It’s exactly the skills the industry needs.”
Artzi and Salazar were among 450 people treated to a celebratory luncheon at GCU Arena. Cheer and Dance team members accompanied honorees to their seats as campus event members cleared tables and Hospitality Management students served food. Thunder was on hand to charm them with his antics.
The Thundering Heard Pep Band performed the National Anthem, and the playlist
during the meal included such songs as “We are the Champions” and “All-Star.”
Throughout the festivities – highlighted by a speech by GCU President Brian Mueller – a ribbon board flashed the names and a slideshow displayed a summary of each All-Star.
When Mueller addressed the audience, he said, “You’ve been chosen to be here because of your leadership role. It’s so important.”
And the event, he said, was just the beginning. The All-Stars will be invited in groups of 15 to share their insights with GCU leadership at the Canyon 49 Grill.
“We want to get to know you better,” Mueller said. “We want to know how to make the University better and get the best of the ideas from people in the front lines.”
He stressed that students are the most important part of the GCU community and that the University is committed to supporting people and things that improve the lives of others.
Three words, he said, describe the importance of employee unity as GCU moves forward: “We serve together.”
For Elizabeth Catricala, a university counselor in the military division, the All-Star designation is a big deal.
“A lot of people here work very hard, and to be singled out is a big honor,” she said.
Steven Niedzielski, multimedia producer, said he feels fortunate to be part of such a vibrant community with a “constant variety of things happening.”
Brett Cortright, General Manager of the Grand Canyon University Hotel, said he works with an “all-star team” of Hospitality students and
employees at GCU’s restaurants and the GCU Hotel who provide “extraordinary service.”
“I love being here and being part of the amazing things that GCU is doing,” he said.
Layla Salazar, a transfer counselor based in Tucson, said she truly appreciates working at GCU.
“I’ve been able to watch the campus grow from 800 students to now, I have work relationships that I’ve built over eight years, and the leadership here is tremendous,” Salazar said. “When Brian speaks, he motivates you. When I hear him, I’m like, ‘Yes!’’’
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.