Scope, popularity of homecoming keep expanding

February 26, 2018 / by / 0 Comment

Thunder always has a big hand in the homecoming activities.

Editor’s note: This story is reprinted from the February issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.

By Rick Vacek
GCU Magazine

One of the phenomena of Grand Canyon University’s rapid growth is that more and more alumni are coming back to see what makes the continually expanding campus so, well, phenomenal.

That will be in evidence again March 2-3 at homecoming, which will feature more returnees and activities than ever. But it’s not as if the busy schedule is the only attraction — for many alums, it’s enough just to know that more and more old friends will be there. This year’s theme is “Herd is the Word,” and, like the campus, the herd keeps growing.

Example: Randy and Sandy Donahoo, class of 1965, who will be coming all the way from Longmont, Colo. For years, they visited Phoenix every so often, but it wasn’t until three years ago that they started attending GCU homecoming.

“We decided to start connecting with people,” Randy said. “Our group is growing.”

And how. Randy estimates that it’s up to 35-40 who gather at a Mexican restaurant the night before homecoming, then continue the fun at the annual alumni tailgate before the basketball game.

“We talk to everyone we didn’t expect to see,” Randy said.

Homecoming 2018 will begin with a new activity: After an opening party at GCU Golf Course, the golfers in the group can participate in Glow Golf, with lights illuminating the fairways, the greens and, of course, the golf balls themselves.

The golf course will remain the site Saturday morning for another new gathering — brunch and canvas painting — or alumni can go out in the neighborhood and help on a Habitat for Humanity project. They then can take in a game at the newly expanded baseball stadium (there’s that campus construction again) before walking over to the aforementioned tailgate.

One of the highlights of the weekend is the GCU Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which will feature five new entrants this year (see chart). The weekend concludes with the men’s basketball team facing Cal State Bakersfield in what could be a critical game for the Lopes, who are hoping to snag a top seed in the Western Athletic Conference tournament.


Friday, March 2

5 p.m. — Kickoff Party, The Lope House, GCU Golf Course: Homecoming 2018 starts with a party. Alumni and guests can enjoy an evening of fun with food and drinks on the beautiful championship golf course property, hosted by the Phoenix Lopes Chapter.

6:30 p.m. — Glow Golf, GCU Golf Course: Teams of four will compete with glow-in-the-dark balls, flags, holes and golf carts.

Saturday, March 3

7 a.m. — Habitat for Humanity project: Alumni will gather on the main campus for check-in and breakfast, then head to assigned projects in the Canyon Corridor.

8:30 a.m. — Painting at The Lope House: Instructor-led painting class (event is at capacity).

4:30 p.m. — Tailgate and derby kart races, Quad: Enjoy dinner and special activities before the men’s basketball game. Derby kart races will take place just after 5:30 pm.

5 p.m. — Hall of Fame ceremony, Antelope Reception Center: Watch a new class of alumni be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

7 p.m. — Men’s basketball game, GCU Arena: Cap off Homecoming 2018 by cheering the Lopes to victory as they get set for the Western Athletic Conference tournament. 


James Carter (B.S., Physical Education, 1957): Former President of Antelope Foundation and member of Board of Trustees. Also was Chief Prosecutor, Assistant City Attorney and City Magistrate of Phoenix.

Mystie Johnson Foote (B.S., Biology, 1994; Executive MBA, 2015): CEO of Banner Medical Group of Phoenix after serving as Chief Medical Officer of Banner Health. Also was an M.D. in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Michael Baird (B.S., Behavioral Science, 1971): Taught Bible, theology and ministry classes at Grand Canyon until his retirement
in 2015. Also was a pastor for many congregations over the years.

Cathy Poplin (B.S., Human Resource Development, 1992): Executive Director, Arizona Technology in Education Association; former Deputy Associate Superintendent for Arizona State Department of Education.

Eric Rasmussen (B.S., Physical Education, 1981): First Team All-American was catcher on NAIA champion baseball team in 1980 and part of two teams that made it to District Championships.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or


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