Year in review: GCU was well served and served well

Students turned out in a big way to camp out for Midnight Madness, the traditional start of basketball season.

Editor's note: Reprinted from the April issue of GCU Magazine. To read the digital version of the magazine, click here

Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU Magazine

The 2021-22 academic year won't be forgotten. After 18 months of pandemic restrictions, Grand Canyon University students showed right away that they were eager for in-person events and experiences. 

GCU stayed right in step with new initiatives, such as GCU CityServe, the Fostering Futures Scholarships and the L.O.P.E.S. Academy at the Cardon Center. Here's a look at the 10 topics that stood out to the GCU Today staff, with updates if there was additional news since the April issue of GCU Magazine was published. Also included are stories on each topic. 

The new GCU CityServe initiative drew hundreds of student volunteers.

1. GCU CityServe arrives and thrives

The University dug in its heels when it began the community-transformation initiative in September and then kept galloping forward. Not only did the warehouse at 27th Avenue and Camelback Road more than double its 35,000 feet of storage space after a recent expansion, but GCU CityServe has connected with more than 60 community partners (or PODs) and was on track to reach $1 million of goods distributed to families in need. GCU CityServe HUB Manager Nathan Cooper said the total was $863,000 at the end of February, a remarkable number in just six months.

Related content: 

GCU Magazine: GCU CityServe wraps arms around those in need

GCU Today: GCU CityServe officially opens distribution center

GCU Today: GCU CityServe nears $750,000 of distributed goods

Silent Disco was one of the many student events that drew big crowds.

2. Students would rather gather

Everything was hopping on GCU’s campus this year in a strong rebound from the pandemic. Fitness facilities were filled, club sports participation doubled, intramural teams expanded, recreation trips were on track to set participation records and nearly every event and program was buzzing with activity. Students wanted to connect in person, live life to the fullest and not just come back to campus but deeply engage in it.

Related content:

GCU Today: Project L: Welcome Week's love letter to diversity

GCU Today: Dancing students pack GCU Arena for Lip Sync

GCU Today: Students' passion for God flares in a rush at Ignite

GCU Today: Slideshow: Silent Disco

Participants in the Fostering Futures Scholarships press conference included (from left) Michael Faust, Director of the Arizona Department of Child Safety; Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey; GCU grad Jacqueline Carter, a foster child; and the governor's wife, Angela.

3. Scholarships foster hope, emotion

The love and enthusiasm shown on a February morning went beyond a standard press conference. The GCU band played, cheerleaders shouted, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey quoted Scripture and the crowd cried as GCU unveiled its new Fostering Futures Scholarships, a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Arizona Department of Child Safety. Full tuition and housing will be granted to qualified Arizona foster children starting in the 2022-23 academic year. If that’s not cause for an emotional celebration, nothing is. Children who have faced hard times can get an education and live on a vibrant, loving campus.

Related content:

GCU Today: GCU unveils scholarships for Arizona foster children

GCU Today: Slideshow: Foster Futures Scholarships press conference

L.O.P.E.S. Academy student Emma Cardon gives her project presentation to attendees of the CHSS Senior Showcase.

4. Cardon Center cohort congregates

Four new students joined the fold this semester at the L.O.P.E.S. Academy at the Cardon Center, the University’s initiative to give young adults with mild intellectual and developmental disabilities a college experience in an inclusive Christian environment. Their addition rounds out the first cohort of 10 participants to the two-year program as the academy seeks its next cohort of students who will start classes this fall.

Related content:

GCU Magazine: My LopeLife: Cardon Center grows confidence, faith

GCU Magazine: Cardon Center accents possibilities, not disabilities

GCU Today: Showcase shines light on Cardon students' work

GCU Today: L.O.P.E.S. Academy students connect with Buddies

GCU Today: New participants sing praises of L.O.P.E.S. Academy

Dr. Excel Theophilus Ukpohor spent $2,815 and traveled 28 hours from Nigeria for Commencement.

5. Going the distance for graduates

Graduates traveled from all over the world to GCU’s campus on seven Mondays in the fall during makeup Commencement ceremonies. It was a sight to behold. Seven thousand graduates from Nigeria and Los Angeles and everywhere in between celebrated with family and friends their achievements, often earned in the lonely times of the pandemic when in-person ceremonies were delayed. Walking across the stage after such a difficult time in our history, the graduates told us, meant everything to them.

Related content:

GCU Magazine: GCU went the extra mile this fall, and so did grads

GCU Today: Staff, volunteers revel in Commencement revelry

GCU Today: Grads go far to applaud in-person Commencement

Dr. Randy Gibb (center) will take over as Grand Canyon University's Provost when Dr. Hank Radda (left) retires in July. Dr. Jennifer Lech (right) has been promoted to Vice Provost.

6. New academic leaders ... and a new college name

Major faculty changes were afoot at the start of the 2021-22 academic year, and they kept happening after it was over. GCU's Provost, Dr. Hank Radda, announced his retirement, effective July 15, and will be replaced by Dr. Randy Gibb, dean of the Colangelo College of Business. Dr. Jennifer Lech was promoted to Vice Provost, and there were three new deans: Dr. Meredith Critchfield was promoted in the College of Education, Dr. Breanna Naegeli moved up in the Honors College and Dr. Craig Detweiler, who has extensive experience in both education and the arts, was brought in to head the College of Fine Arts and Production … oops, check that. Soon after Detweiler’s arrival, COFAP became the College of Arts and Media to better reflect the collaboration among its programs.

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GCU Today: New dean brings diverse background to fine arts

GCU Magazine: Acting on faith, Detweiler found place in the arts

GCU Today: Critchfield named Dean of College of Education

GCU Today: Naegeli promoted to dean of growing Honors College

GCU Today: College of Arts and Media: a new era for the arts

The GCU softball team celebrates its WAC regular-season championship.

7. More WAC titles, NCAA trips

GCU Athletics topped itself, along with many opponents. Men’s and women’s basketball posted 20-win seasons, but success started with men’s and women’s soccer reaching the NCAA tournaments, giving the men three trips in four years. Golfer Siri Patchana won her second WAC Championship while women’s tennis grabbed another regular-season WAC trophy and softball secured its first conference regular-season title since 2017. Baseball is far from done but already has defeated five top-25 opponents, a season high for its Division I era. Track and field continued to stack trophies, taking its sixth consecutive WAC men’s indoor championship and fifth women’s title in six years. Beach volleyball and men’s volleyball reached the national top 10, and the beach team secured its first NCAA Championship berth.

Related content:

GCU Lopes: Patchana captures 2nd WAC title

GCU Lopes: GCU reaches WAC Tournament championship

GCU Lopes: Historic Lopes take WAC Tournament crown

GCU Lopes: Lopes repeat as WAC regular-season champs

GCU Lopes: Senior Day win brings smiles to GCU

GCU Lopes: GCU sweeps WAC Indoor Championships

GCU Lopes: Lopes make history with 1st bid to NCAAs

Sam Ness works with six other GCU graduates at Glendale's Copper Canyon High School. GCU professor Dr. Jim Mostofo keeps track of the University's graduates in schools he works with — 84 in four partner school districts.

8. Calling all teachers, nurses

Teacher and nursing shortages were stressors in those fields even before COVID-19, but the global pandemic only magnified the problems. Instead of throwing their arms up in defeat, GCU leaders got to work, from getting students emergency certified to be substitute teachers, to partnering with one neighboring school to employ students as teaching associates, to helping students in other careers “recareer” and become nurses after finishing a 16-month program.

Related content:

GCU Today: GCU helps stem teaching, nursing shortages

GCU todayGCU students help fill need for substitute teachers

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GCU Today: Teacher takes alternative pathway to her dream

GCU President Brian Mueller after signing STELLAR's microbial fuel cell that went into space.

9. STELLAR's goals are out of this world

STELLAR, a team of 15 undergraduates from eight of the University’s colleges, realized their space dreams on April 27 when their microbial fuel cell was launched to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 39, the same site where the Space Shuttle launched for years. The fuel cell was scheduled to return to Earth in May, when even more work will begin as the team analyzes the data it receives for a research paper.

Related content:

GCU Magazine: Fuel cell powers team's space, humanitarian goals

GCU Today: Another STELLAR performance by research group

GCU Today: STELLAR makes final push as space launch nears

Day of Giving brought together members of the GCU community to donate to a number of important causes. (Photo by Rick D'Elia)

10. What gives? GCU, that's who

GCU’s first Day of Giving in October produced 2,093 gifts for more than $200,000, providing 60 campaigns with extra funding. Among the most popular was Students Inspiring Students, which was up to more than 500 full-tuition scholarships for students from GCU’s neighborhood. It led Cherylann Galdi, director of the program, to say, “As Christians, we have a heart for others, and it really showed today.”

Related content:

GCU Magazine: Day of Giving served GCU's sense of community well

GCU Today: Inaugural Day of Giving makes powerful debut


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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

Jesus taught his disciples, saying: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

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