Categories: College of Doctoral StudiesSpotlight

Hotel an at-home sanctuary for doctoral learners

The GCU Hotel & Restaurant is a home away from home for many doctoral learners.

By Ryan Kryska
GCU News Bureau

Roberta Allen flew from Alabama to Phoenix for her residency program. She knew that wouldn’t be easy.

What she didn’t know is that she’d be staying on campus at a hotel one tick below a resort — and that it would be so hard to leave the pool.

“On Monday, I thought I might just stay in the pool,” said Allen, who is a learner going for her doctorate of philosophy and general psychology. “It was lovely.”

Allen was in town June 17-22 to complete her residency. She and the other doctoral learners in Grand Canyon University’s College of Doctoral Studies have been staying at the GCU Hotel while completing the program.

The college made the move away from a Phoenix resort in 2016, providing the learners with a sanctuary that’s steps away from the classrooms in the 27th Avenue Office Building.

Allen said staff members have taken care of her since she arrived.

“They didn’t have to do that but they did,” Allen said. “It’s just been really nice. Everything is here. I would hate to think that I’d be clear across town.”

A view above the GCU Hotel pool

The college’s program chair, Dr. James Hadley, said he’s received nothing but compliments about the hospitality transition.

He said learners previously had been spread across the resort, making it difficult for them to come together. But now they utilize hotel conference rooms to study what they’ve learned in their programs.

Hadley said the college organizes 26 residencies throughout the year, which keeps the hotel busy. It’s Hospitality Event Coordinator Ali Barbes’ job to makes sure the learners in those programs don’t go hungry.

Barbes’ staff provides the learners breakfast Tuesday through Friday, puts out mid-morning and evening snacks, feeds them lunch Tuesday through Thursday, and hosts dinner buffets Monday and Tuesday.

“They’re a great group of people,” Barbes said. “The fun thing is it’s never the same group. It’s always different and always a lot of fun.”

Among the fun was one guest who Barbes said serenaded the lobby. A couple of weeks ago, one of the learners broke out into a worship song and turned every head in the place.

“She was very good, just performing,” Barbes said. “Someone said she sings with her church. … Each week is different.”

Allen, who earned her master’s degree at GCU, said she researched multiple schools for her doctoral studies but always knew in her heart she’d remain a Lope.

She said she attended a public school in Alabama for her bachelor’s degree and struggled with the culture.

“Since I did have such a hard time, I knew I needed a little Christian in my studies,” Allen said. “I had such a wonderful experience with that. I looked at other universities, but I came right back here.”

Allen praised Dr. Trish Dolasinski and Dr. Kay Hansen for their teaching role in her residency program. She said they helped her make a “complete 180” in her educational mindset.

“With their help, understanding and guidance, it’s totally changed,” Allen said. “I’m rejuvenated.”

Contact Ryan Kryska at (602) 639-8415 or ryan.kryska@gcu.edu.

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