Year in Review: GCU kept thriving despite pandemic
It wasn’t hard to figure out the most significant news item of the 2020-21 Grand Canyon University academic year. Like the rest of the world. GCU had to deal with a historic health crisis.
The way the University handled it, both on campus in the community, made it even more significant — so much so that it occupies the top two spots in our top 10 stories of the year. But it had plenty of company in events that moved the meter. Here’s what stood out to the GCU Magazine staff, described with words and photos:
1. COVID response on campus
If you had told University officials last summer that they would be able to keep students on campus the entire academic year, they probably would have been thrilled. But it turned out a lot better than that. The blended learning setup was a success thanks to GCU’s advanced use of technology, Winter Commencement was in person rather than online, COVID-adjusted social activities still thrived, enrollment continued to go up and tuition continued to remain frozen.
2. COVID response for community
Every step of the way, GCU did what it could to help the community fight the virus – and then kept going one step further. First, employees came together to make personal protective equipment. Then came COVID tests. Finally, and most importantly, a vaccine Point of Dispensing site was put together in 10 days and enabled 50,000 doses to be administered in the first 38 days.
3. Long wait, but then WAC title is great
The key numbers for Athletics in 2020-21 were 2, 3, 19 and 259. Two signified the number of new head basketball coaches, Bryce Drew and Molly Miller. Three is for the men’s team, which beat conference nemesis New Mexico State three times this year, including the WAC title game, to earn an NCAA tournament spot. The women’s team made its first appearance in the conference final before losing. GCU athletes were forced to go 259 days between games because of the pandemic, with fall semester postponements resulting in 19 teams competing in the spring semester.
4. A wide world of Multicultural Office offerings
After Donald Glenn was promoted to director, the Multicultural, Diversity and Inclusion Office was moved to the high profil northeast corner of the Student Life Building, right on the Promenade. Glenn oversaw a series of unifying campus events, most notably the One Love Awareness Walk and the Culture Fest.
5. Forming a united front with CityServe
The partnership with CityServe International began as a way to distribute food boxes to families in need through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Soon it will grow even bigger: GCU has plans to create a 35,000-square foot warehouse to store even more goods and serve as a hub to distribute goods throughout Arizona.
6. Computer science, engineering programs confirmed as all-stars
The meteoric rise of GCU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology shot across the sky at the start of the academic year when ABET, a major accrediting organization, gave the official OK to the bachelor’s programs in Computer Science and Biomedical, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering in their firs year of eligibility.
7. The Rivers will flow into Residence Life
Construction is always a key building block for the annual review of top GCU stories, and this fall will feature the opening of what should be a foundational piece of Residence Life. The Rivers, a grouping of three apartment buildings and a parking garage at the intersection of 29th and Missouri avenues, figures to be a high-demand destination.
8. Advancement moves forward
The new Advancement team facilitated a $500,000 grant from the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation for GCU’s groundbreaking Students Inspiring Students program. Another spoke in the Advancement wheel, the Office of Alumni Relations, named a new director, GCU alumnus Noah Wolfe.
9. L.E.A.P.-ing up to fill the teacher breach
With Phoenix-area schools desperate for quality teachers, GCU’s College of Education and Canyon Professional Development, a branch of K-12 Educational Development, worked together to find a faster path to teacher certification with the Canyon L.E.A.P. to Teach initiative.
10. NCLEX pass rate addresses nursing shortage
Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is tough enough for nursing graduates without a pandemic eliminating face-to-face tutoring. But the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions saw to it that the students got the help they needed, and the result was a 96.17% first-time pass rate in 2020 at a time when the world needs more qualified nurses.
GCU Magazine: How GCU scored points with pandemic innovations
GCULopes.com: Coro: WAC title ride worth reliving
GCU Magazine: GCU’s Multicultural Office opens window to diversity
GCU Magazine: Sky-high alumni plans include online students