Move-In Day 2: 'Together, there is no limit to what we can do'

Compiled by the GCU News Bureau

The largest freshman class in the history of Grand Canyon University -- 3,000 strong, more than one-third of a record campus enrollment for fall -- received a rousing welcome Friday at a late-afternoon convocation in GCU Arena that followed two hectic but orderly days of Move-In.

With new students standing as one, GCU's president and chief executive officer, Brian Mueller, told them, "Together, there is no limit to what we can do at Grand Canyon University." He also introduced GCU's executive team and the deans of the University's seven colleges.

His brief remarks came after a hard-rocking, three-song set by the Chapel band and before a greeting from Pastor Tim Griffin, the University's dean of students.

Griffin, noting the upcoming year's Chapel theme of "His Story, Your Story," told the students that they already are part of something special.

"We're thrilled with what God is accomplishing on this campus," he said. "He's writing an incredible story, and He has asked us to be a part of it. ... Grand Canyon now becomes a part of the story God is writing in your life. It's no accident that God brought you to Grand Canyon."

Suji Shin, president of Associated Students of GCU, addressed the newcomers on behalf of student leadership at the end of the 45-minute gathering, which adjourned to a catered picnic on the intramural field.

"My goal is to make sure that the love and the community we had when we came to GCU is what you have," she said.

-- Doug Carroll  

'Welcome Way' becomes the only way to campus

It’s known as the “north road” on campus, but during the two days of Move-In it deserves a name befitting its significance.

How about Welcome Way?

On Friday morning’s second day, the thoroughfare was a picture of rush-hour efficiency after vehicles bearing new GCU students had turned in from 35th Avenue. Two lanes took cars east past the soccer field and the Student Recreation Center and on to unloading points at Hegel Hall and the newer residence halls.

Along the road, greeters included Suji Shin and Samy Carlon, officers of Associated Students of GCU, passing out T-shirts, fanny packs and water bottles. And at the end, positioned squarely at a “T” in front of Chaparral Hall, was Dr. Anne McNamara, dean of the University’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, directing traffic while making use of her skills as a former softball coach.

With a water bottle tucked into her waistband and wearing a wide-brimmed hat, McNamara interpreted the shorthand scribbled in soap on a windshield, conferred quickly with the driver and sent the vehicle on with a signal to Liz Martin, a 2013 GCU grad who now works in the Office of Spiritual Life and was stationed 50 yards to the south.

A windshield code of “SH425R” would mean Sedona Hall, Room 425, right side. McNamara’s arms held overhead and crossed in an "X": Send the vehicle through. Fist raised: Pull them over.

Down at Sedona Hall, past Martin, Dr. James Helfers of the College of Arts and Sciences, a veteran of “more than 10” Move-Ins by his count, was among the horde of volunteers awaiting an opportunity to unload.

His right hand was wrapped in a protective brace (strictly precautionary, he said) and he had three Advil in one of the pockets of his shorts (ditto).

Move-In is “the best of tradition and making things better,” Helfers said. “We’ve always had the tradition of knowing our students better. This has to be the most efficient Move-In I’ve ever seen. We keep the core value of connection, and it keeps getting better.

“I love this every year. It’s energizing.”

Helfers said he could remember a Move-In years ago when Hegel was the University’s only residence hall. About  50 faculty members and 200 students were involved, he said. According to some estimates, the GCU tradition of Welcome Week goes back to 1955.

“I got to know 20 or 30 students that year just by introducing myself,” Helfers said of his first Move-In. “Then you walk into class and you see them. You already know the kind of soda they like. … That Move-In was chaotic, but this is organized. All of the Student Life and Facilities people just bust it for this.”

Anna Faith Smith, assistant dean of the College of Theology, worked alongside Helfers on Friday and said she was amused by the preparations of some students.

“I saw a shoe rack filled with candy,” she said. “I think they’re afraid they’ll starve. Someone else arrived with just one bag.”

Helfers, an avid cyclist, was taking note of some of the classier bikes brought to campus by students.

“There was one that I just wanted to ride right into the building,” he said.

—   Doug Carroll

Keeping their spirits (and their ’Lopes) up

After Thursday’s long, hot Day 1 of Move-In and a flurry of student events afterward, Sarah Thatcher went home for a “three-hour nap” before returning to campus at dawn on Friday.

“People are tired, but their spirits are up,” said Thatcher, the student involvement manager in charge of organizing Welcome Week events. “They’re still cheering. There’s never a car that just sits and waits for people.”

Thatcher’s counterpart in Student Affairs, Jeremy Mack, smiled through the fatigue as he jumped onto and off of a golf cart to direct while serving as a “stopgap” for traffic north of Hegel Hall, on the road along the north side of campus. Some students and families showed up earlier than expected for their designated move-ins, although Mack — who joined the Student Affairs team earlier this year as director of student engagement — said “80 walkie-talkies and a lot of very flexible staff” helped sort through the unexpected traffic.

At one point, Mack personally escorted a lost Coca-Cola delivery truck through the Move-In gauntlet, shouting, “Keep smiling … ‘Lopes Up!’” from his golf cart to a throng of shrieking volunteers. That elicited a booming horn-honk from the trailing Coke truck.

—   Michael Ferraresi 

Hot off the racks at Arena Team Shop: neon

Purple pride will always be No. 1 at GCU, but a new contender in campus fashion emerged during the two days of Move-In. Women’s tank tops and V-neck shirts in neon — in the familiar glow-stick green/yellow and the less-seen hot pink — flew off the shelves of the Arena Team Shop and the bookstore.

“These are walking out the door,” said Teresa Terrazas, the bookstore’s assistant manager, showing off the pink V-neck, which (yes!) also comes in lovely purple.

Rachel Byrd, the Team Shop’s manager, said more than $3,000 in sales was generated during just eight hours Thursday.

“Our neon items are definitely popular, along with our new Nike hats,” Byrd said. “The guys cleaned out several different styles of men’s shirts. The moms loved the GCU ’LOPES mom shirts, and the girls were loving the tanks.”

Bling-style hats and mugs were other top sellers at the Team Shop, while parents with children younger than incoming freshmen went for a new selection of more contemporary clothing for youth. They also snapped up pale purple mugs while waiting in line.

With a record campus enrollment of 8,500 students, both locations expect to have considerably more foot traffic in the coming week. Diana White, manager of the bookstore, said as many as 15 additional temporary student workers were hired to help behind the cash registers and to assist parents and students shopping for textbooks.

White said the best textbook deal is for the three required by Christian Worldview 101. Rental price is under $30 for the set.

—   Janie Magruder

Perspective of a Move-In rookie

As new students flooded GCU, Dr. Jason Hiles got his first taste of what the campus really has to offer.

“This is the first experience of campus life for me and students coming together as a community,” said Hiles, who served as a volunteer “Luggage Lugger” and used the experience to become familiar with GCU staff and community members. “I’ve never seen this level of enthusiasm for moving students in before. It’s amazing.”

Hiles, new dean of the College of Theology, first arrived at GCU earlier this summer — a time when students are relatively scarce — after serving as dean at the Caskey School of Divinity at Louisiana College. He said the sheer number of volunteers and the organization of such a hectic event, paired with the desire to make incoming students feel welcome, made the event special.

“It’s as if that tradition has passed on from year to year and, as it has grown, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Hiles said. “It’s contagious.”

 — Cooper Nelson


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GCU Magazine

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