Early move-out heads top GCU stories of 2019-20

May 18, 2020 / by / 0 Comment

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

GCU Magazine

The COVID-19 pandemic forced an extraordinarily bizarre scene — students moving off campus in March. That alone made it the obvious choice for Grand Canyon University‘s No. 1 story of the 2019-20 academic year. Here is the top 10 with links to the GCU Today/GCU Magazine coverage of each development:

Patience Momoh and Kelsia Liburd move off campus in March after the COVID-19 pandemic forced most of the campus to be shut down. (Photo by David Kadlubowski)

1. Coronavirus forces ground classes to move online for final four weeks of semester

Such a sudden turn of events for graduating seniors. Such a shock to not have time to process the end of their days as GCU students. Just like that, most students stayed home after spring break and the remaining campus events were canceled or postponed as ground classes transitioned to an online learning environment because of the spread of the coronavirus.

Caleb Duarte, known around campus as “The Host” for his emcee work and creation of “The Canyon Night Show,” was affected as much as anyone.

Caleb Duarte (right) enjoyed the impromptu “commencement.” (Photo by Gillian Rea)

“So much of my life is there,” he said.

He thought it would be therapeutic when, just a few days after he had hosted the annual Mr. GCU competition for the last time, a group of seniors decided to march down Lopes Way in an impromptu “commencement” before leaving campus for spring break and, in most cases, the rest of the semester.

It WAS helpful … but not for long.

“Everyone was excited about it and thought it was a fun thing to do,” he said, “but it also was kind of sad. It was like, ‘This is it?’”

So like everyone else, he prepared for the unpreparable – but with the spirit he felt in the campus that became his home.

“I’m just trying to be there for other people,” he said. “It’s definitely hard, but it’s just a small chapter in my life.”

Plans are in motion for a postponed commencement/reunion weekend for the graduates later this year. 

2. WAC Tournament, spring sports wiped out

The coronavirus also disrupted the sports world. The WAC Basketball Tournament was canceled minutes before the GCU women’s team was scheduled to play its first-round game, and spring sports ended early – spoiling excellent starts by the baseball, men’s volleyball and beach volleyball teams.

Bryce Drew

3. Bryce Drew, Molly Miller named new basketball coaches

After the coronavirus forced the sudden end to the college basketball season, GCU hired Bryce Drew to be its new men’s coach and Molly Miller to take over the women’s program. Drew has taken teams to the NCAA tournament three times and is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Miller is a two-time Division II Coach of the Year. (This item was updated because Molly Miller was hired after GCU Magazine was published.)

4. Student Advising Services Building opens

The newest addition to the Promenade is a majestic five-story building that provides a work home for the Antelope Reception Center, enrollment and student counseling.

An overflow crowd turned out for the grand opening of Canyon Ventures in February. (Photo by Gillian Rea)

5. Canyon Ventures transforms entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs have a home with free rent on one condition – hiring GCU students. It’s a win-win for them and for students eager to get valuable experience.

6. First full class of Students Inspiring Students graduates

Four years ago, they received their full-tuition scholarships on their high school campuses. Now they’re ready to take on the world.

7. Dance team wins 2 more national titles

It repeated as the Game Day winner in one competition and won the Jazz Dance category for the first time in another. Also, the Cheer team had two top-four finishes in its national championships.

The Herd Stop added a new grocery option on campus.

8. New pastoral program

A $3.2 million grant from the Kern Family Foundation enabled GCU to start work on a pastoral program that will make it possible to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Divinity in five years instead of seven — with the fifth year tuition free.

9. A one-stop shop for fruits, veggies

Campus dining got another healthy-eating option with the spring semester opening of the Herd Stop, a 5,000-square-foot convenience store that features an array of deli sandwiches and three walls of shelves for fruits and vegetables.

10. Planting teachers and a garden

GCU’s partnership with nearby Westwood Elementary School continued to flourish. In addition to GCU students helping out in the Westwood classrooms and after school, three GCU graduates filled a need for full-time teachers at the school. And volunteers planted the seeds for Westwood’s first community garden.


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