Campus celebration returns to in-person activities

After a year off because of the pandemic, the popular derby kart races again will be part of the pregame basketball tailgate.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

One of the biggest annual Grand Canyon University celebrations has been made even bigger.

For the first time since the pandemic began, GCU’s fan-favorite Homecoming festivities have returned to their traditional in-person set-up. In addition, for the second consecutive year, Family Weekend organizers will team up with the Office of Alumni Relations to host a multitude of events for all members of the GCU community.

Thus, we have Homecoming Family Weekend.

“We’ve really had a great time brainstorming how we can hit both families and alums,” said Robyn Hord, Parent and Family Programs Coordinator. “I think what has also been really fun is that this is going to be the largest homecoming that GCU has ever had by incorporating the families.”

From Friday through Sunday, alumni, students, families and friends can participate in a large selection of events, including a Lopes Live talent show, Breakfast with Thunder and the highly anticipated men’s basketball game against Dixie State.

It’s set to be the ultimate celebration of all things GCU.

“We believe in lifelong relationships at GCU, and we believe that the values that GCU holds really resonate with our GCU community in its entirety,” said Noah Wolfe, Director of Alumni Relations. “GCU’s campus is a place that’s designed for the entire GCU community. This weekend is specifically designed for all members of the GCU community to come, to participate and to celebrate what the GCU community is all about, which is community at its core.”

Noah Wolfe 

Alumni Relations also has created a way for alums to give back. To highlight the University's emphasis on service and philanthropy, a registration fee ranging from $10 to $15 for the in-person celebration has been implemented and will go toward supporting GCU CityServe, the Student Benevolence Fund or Students Inspiring Students.

“Giving and generosity have just been an integral part of our story for years,” Wolfe said. “For the first time this year, we’re going to have physical dollars that we’re going to raise at the event go toward student scholarship. It’s a really big part of the event.”

In addition to serving GCU’s campus community, event coordinators have made it a priority to create opportunities for out-of-state alumni and families to participate in the weekend fun. A virtual Homecoming schedule, consisting of livestreams, virtual tours and a Q&A, has been developed for any Lope who is unable to attend physically but still wants to participate.

Another big update to a beloved Homecoming tradition will be implemented at the Hall of Fame ceremony.

Scott VanNewkirk

The event, which traditionally celebrates that year’s inductees, will welcome back past inductees who were unable to attend the ceremony in prior years. This includes 2021 Hall of Fame inductees Scott Van Newkirk, Garth Bailey, Rachel Winkler and Dan Snyder as well as 2019 inductee George Holm, who was unable to attend his ceremony because of scheduling conflict.

The 2022 Hall of Fame class includes 2008 graduates Jeff Riley and Melissa Holdaway and Jim (1983) and Rita (1986) Ledbetter.

With so much to do together as a community after such a long time apart, Wolfe and his team have made it their mission to come back swinging.

And if this weekend’s action-packed schedule is any indication, a home run is on the horizon.

“We’re excited to have everybody on campus all at once,” Wolfe said. “We’re looking forward to hosting a really special weekend of events.”

Homecoming Family Weekend in-person events              

Friday, March 4                   

  • Golf: Time varies, GCU Golf Course (For tee times, please call 623-846-4022)
  • Family Weekend Check-In: 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Arena Plaza
  • Faculty Meet & Greet/Discover Pop Up: 1-3 p.m., Quad
  • Sunset Yoga: 5-6 p.m., Baseball Lawn
  • Lopes Live: 6:30-8 p.m., Quad

Saturday, March 5           

  • Sunrise Yoga: 7 a.m., Baseball Lawn
  • Family Weekend Check-In: 8 a.m.-noon, Student Union Promenade
  • Breakfast with Thunder: 8-9:30 a.m., Canyon 49 / Student Union
  • Golf: Time varies, GCU Golf Course (For tee times, please call 623-846-4022)
  • Chapel - Worship & Presidential Address: 10:30 a.m., GCU Stadium
  • Homecoming Family Weekend Market - Student Vendors and Performances/Discover Pop Up: noon-3  p.m., Student Union Promenade
  • Family Feud, Whisper Challenge, Student Performances: noon-3 p.m., Student Union Promenade
  • Zumba: 12:30-1:30 p.m., Baseball Lawn
  • Campus Tours: 1-3 p.m., Antelope Reception Center (ARC)
  • Barre: 1:30-2:30 p.m., Baseball Lawn
  • Alumni Hall of Fame Ceremony: 1:30-3 p.m., Building 8 - Sunset
  • Thunder Bolt Drawing: 3 p.m., Student Union Promenade
  • GCU Tailgate: 3:30-5:30 p.m., Church Parking Lot
  • Livestream - Men's Basketball Game: 6 p.m., Quad

Sunday, March 6                          

  • 9 Hole Shotgun Golf & Breakfast (Alumni): 7:30 a.m., GCU Golf Course
  • Church with your student: Time, location vary
  • Golf: Time varies, GCU Golf Course (For tee times, please call 623-846-4022)

Virtual events

  • GCU Alumni & Family Chapel Livestream
  • Presidential Address by Brian Mueller 
  • GCU Campus Tour
  • Live Alumni Hall of Fame
  • GCU Archives
  • GCU Athletic Tour
  • Live Enrollment Q&A

Those interested can register for online events here.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: Inaugural Day of Giving makes powerful debut

GCU Magazine: Calling all alumni! GCU is bringing events to you

GCU Magazine: GCU CityServe wraps arms around those in need


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