‘Cornerstone’ celebrates 30 years as part of GCU foundation
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Ben VanDerLinden has known Judy Eroe as a student and as a colleague at Grand Canyon University. That makes his perspective doubly valuable as Eroe, GCU’s Executive Director of Academic Assessment, celebrates her 30-year anniversary as a full-time employee of the University.
“Judy exemplifies the heart of Canyon,” said VanDerLinden, Department Chair and Associate Professor in Mathematics for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). “She was a great instructor who deeply cared about her students – not just their academic learning, their life learning as well. She represents what it means to be called in vocation to teach, to walk with her students and share more than lessons.
“As a colleague, she brings a precision and care to a position some might find challenging – supporting the mission and needs of the University while still cultivating the organic nature of academics.
“As an expert in assessment and institutional effectiveness, she acts as the cornerstone for GCU. A cornerstone does not always get the glory or fanfare and does not seek it out, either; however, a cornerstone does work best when hewn from the quarry of a life well-lived.”
Eroe came to GCU in 1987 as an adjunct faculty member teaching German, and when she went full time she also taught remedial and introductory English and English as a second language.
She later became Director of Assessment for the now defunct College of Arts and Sciences before transitioning to her current role, in which she oversees institution and programmatic assessment initiatives.
“We make sure we live up to the commitment of our mission statement,” she said. “Are students demonstrating the dimensions that we say relate to effective communication and critical thinking? We assist the institution and the colleges in the assessment and improvement of their students’ learning.”
Her sense of GCU’s history is such that when academic leaders worked recently to amend UNV-103, the welcome-to-GCU class for newcomers, they brought her into the conversation to tap her knowledge.
The subject of the last 30 years comes up often with faculty members who have joined her in that journey, particularly Anna Faith Smith in the College of Theology; Claude Pensis in the College of Fine Arts and Production; William Kuehl in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology; and Larry Barron and Jim Helfers in CHSS.
Together, they have watched GCU grow internally and externally. The external component – exemplified in initiatives such as Students Inspiring Students, Habitat for Humanity projects and Serve the City – has inspired her just as much.
“When you grow, there might be a certain sense of intimacy that you lose, but it still is very much a sense of family,” she said. “This incredible ability to spread that sense of family and commitment and caring far beyond the boundaries of the institution is just incredible.”
Like most GCU employees, Eroe has worked from home during the pandemic and found it an extremely productive time. Her only regret: She didn’t take her whiteboard home.
“I have Post-Its all over the guest bedroom,” she said, laughing.
Her overall thoughts about the GCU journey:
“There have been some twists and turns, but it is a very safe and comfortable vehicle, and the ultimate destination is where I want to be. I’m on this journey with people I love and care about. Most of the new experiences have been really positive opportunities for growth and learning.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
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