A big week for Lope Shop, GCBC ... and photo ops

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

The Grand Canyon University campus has a new landmark. But rather than brick and mortar, it’s made of industrial foam.

Among the most popular places on campus has been the spot where the big "GCU" letters now reside.

The huge “GCU” block letters on the Promenade, right in front of the Lope Shop, quickly have become the hot spot for Welcome Week photos. The trees and Prescott Field make for a perfect background.

The letters were formed when Tim Baron, Associate Athletic Director/Facilities and Operations, mentioned the idea to Becky Barber, Social Media Marketing Manager. Then she put it in her budget and got it approved.

Now it’s a tweet treat.

“Every time we walk past there, there’s a line to take pictures,” she said.

That was just one of the interesting sights as Welcome Week came into focus. Here’s a look at a few others.

Lope Shop sets record

Andy Dunn, Director of Campus Retail and Licensing, said the Lope Shop finished Monday with the biggest one-day revenue total in its history. “Going like gangbusters,” he said. 

The Lope Shop was a busy place Monday afternoon.

Dunn made it his mission to be a linebuster by keeping things moving as much as possible at the checkout counters. He would chat people up, ask them how they’re doing, and said a typical conversation would go like this:

“Long day?”


“You tired?”


“You having fun?”


The pillows were popular.

The top four sellers were T-shirts with the GCU seal, a combo pack of one hooded sweatshirt and one T-shirt, lanyards/ID card holders and decals, but the pillows on the tables outside also proved popular. So did the new Tokyodachi anime display, the result of GCU winning a national contest.

GCBC equally busy

Another hot spot on campus outdid itself Tuesday morning – thanks to its student workers.

GCBC, the campus coffeehouse, was overrun with incoming students and their parents after the early Move-In shift. When the GCBC managers saw the java jam, they sent a group text to their student workers and were gratified when 10-15 showed up within minutes, even though they either weren’t scheduled to work or weren’t due to come in until the afternoon.

When it was all over and the crisis had been quickly averted, thanks to such dedication, managers Brennan Williams and Lauren Lentini sat at a table dazed but gratified. They didn’t even need to tell the student workers what to do – they just jumped in and helped, no questions asked.

GCBC managers Brennan Williams and Lauren Lentini.

“They’re the best student workers in the history of student workers,” Williams said.

“They literally came sprinting in here,” said Lentini.

It has been that kind of week. The managers have to report for duty at 3:30 a.m. to prepare 40 gallons apiece of hot coffee and cold brew for the student volunteers and to get ready for the usual rush. They estimated that the Student Union and Roadrunner Apartments GCBC locations were serving 200 to 300 people an hour.

And then there’s the GCBC outreach. Along with the greetings from student volunteers who answer questions or just share the first of many smiles the visitors will see at Move-In, GCBC representatives are handing out samples and scratch-off discount cards.

No wonder those families make it their first stop … at almost the exact same time.

The making of a meal

Down the street from the excitement at Move-In, Canyon 49 Grill was the scene of another slice of frenetic GCU life.

Those volunteers have to get fed, and they are fed very well. Their Tuesday meal was a box lunch from the Grill.

Canyon 49 Grill chefs Mike Willison (left) and Marcus Maggiore. (File photo)

But to make that happen, Executive Chef Marcus Maggiore and Sous Chef Mike Willison had to get to work at 6 a.m. Monday to construct 1,700 sandwiches. Maggiore started slicing the 250 pounds of turkey and 175 pounds of ham Friday, but he also had other tasks on his plate: The GCU Hotel was full over the weekend, which meant the Grill was busy, and Canyon 49 introduced a new menu a week ago – and always is busy during Welcome Week, too.

“I’ve worked in places where we did dinners for several hundred to a thousand, but 1,700 is a lot,” Maggiore said.

He estimated that it takes 35-40 seconds to construct a turkey-bacon-cheddar on a ciabatta bun or a ham-and-cheese wrap in assembly-line style: one person opening the bread, one putting on the lettuce, tomato, cheese and meat, and one finishing it and wrapping it in plastic.

Do the math, and that’s about 15-17 hours of sandwich construction, all for one volunteer meal. But like other seemingly normal menu items at the Grill, Maggiore wants it to be special.

“My goal is that the person on the other end of the meal has a smile on their face by the time they leave,” he said. “That’s what my cooking is about, what my style is about, and that’s what Mike’s style is about as well.

The inflated water slides were among the attractions at the Canyon Cool Down on Monday night.

“We’ll happily make something that takes something you can identify and ups the game a little bit and makes it more creative, more interesting, more new.”

The box lunches weren’t their only task. In a partnership with 40 Below Joe, the Grill also served snow cones infused with pop rocks at the Canyon Cool Down on Monday night.

No wonder Maggiore said he and Willison will pretty much live at the Grill until Tuesday evening. The only saving grace is that sandwiches aren’t as heavy as the refrigerators, dressers and sofas that student volunteers carry, one after another.

A cool experience

The Canyon Cool Down, sponsored by the Canyon Activities Board (CAB), is a chance for students to relax in The Grove pool, veer down inflated water slides, munch on hamburgers and hot dogs, crunch snow cones and dance to tunes played by a disc jockey.

Meghan Mellinger, the CAB manager for the Department of Student Affairs, said Monday’s gathering was one of the largest ever.

An arriving dad shows off his newly painted face.

“It’s just always a fun night because it’s our first event of the week,” she said. “They’re excited, and it’s great that we have an opportunity to welcome them on their first night and make them feel connected and start building that community.”

Oh those dads

Parents join in the community just as much as the students they are driving to campus.

It’s not uncommon to see moms and especially dads high-fiving student volunteers as they drive in for Move-In – and holding their cellphone in their other hand to get a video of the scene. (We’re not quite sure how that works with the driving part.)

But then there was the dad who went one step further Monday. He asked one of the students to paint his face. And so she did.

All the better for that photo in front of the big “GCU” letters on the Promenade.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/