Grand Canyon University’s platinum year was also the biggest and best in its 70-year history, as the university will confer 25,232 degrees for its traditional-aged and working adult students.
Many of those will participate in eight commencement ceremonies April 25-27 at GCU Arena.
The university will also hit two other milestones during commencement:
• GCU’s first engineering graduates will walk across the stage as the university continues to focus on a new era in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. The engineering program launched in 2015 as GCU constructed more than 300,000 square feet of state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories in the Engineering and Technology buildings.
• The first two Students Inspiring Students (SIS) scholarship recipients will graduate from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Both graduates have completed their degrees in three years. The SIS program is an extension of GCU’s Learning Lounge, a free after-school academic assistance program that has impacted 3,000-plus students at more than 130 K-12 schools in GCU’s inner-city neighborhood.
“Commencement is one of my favorite moments as I get to witness the achievements and contributions of our extraordinary graduates as they embark into the world,” said GCU President Brian Mueller. “Our graduates are going out into businesses, health-care fields, school districts, churches, technology firms and other fields and will be making an impact through their academic experience, character and faith.”
Commencement caps another groundbreaking year in GCU’s 70-year history. Among the notable achievements:
• GCU reverted to its non-profit status after gaining approval from the Higher Learning Commission, Arizona State Board for Postsecondary Education and Internal Revenue Service. Returning to its historical roots puts the school on a level playing field with other traditional universities with the ability to accept philanthropic contributions, pursue research grant opportunities and participate in NCAA governance.
• The Grand Canyon Theological Seminary at GCU received the full-seven-year accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools.
• GCU continued its efforts to make higher education accessible and affordable by announcing that it would freeze tuition on its ground campus for the 11th consecutive year.
• The university also opened the 150,000-square-foot Colangelo College of Business facility. The building includes 81 offices and 61 classrooms. Named after one of the most influential people in Arizona, Jerry Colangelo has been involved with GCU since 2009 as a board member, advisor and the namesake for the Colangelo College of Business. GCU was also gifted a bronze statue from Colangelo’s JDM Partners, honoring the Valley icon. It resides at its new home in the GCU Quad near the Colangelo Museum and GCU Arena.
• The Colangelo College of Business building is the latest in the construction boom on campus. The 130,000-square-foot Canyon Activities Center (CAC) opened, followed by the DEK hockey rink, donated by the Arizona Coyotes, which is located right outside its doors. The CAC has 10 regulation-sized courts and is the home to dozens of campus club and intramural sports. The facility will be one of four host sites for the NCAA Youth Development College Basketball Camps this summer.
• GCU’s on-campus housing, rated seventh-best among 1,370 colleges in the country by niche.com, added two more six-story, apartment-style residence halls as enrollment on the Phoenix campus surpassed 20,000. Of that total, about 12,000 students live on campus. Three more apartment buildings are planned for 2019-20 to keep up with student growth, bringing the total number of residence halls to 24 on GCU’s 260-acre campus.
• The university continued its heavy investments into the surrounding inner-city neighborhood, including a $1.6 million eight-year partnership with the Phoenix Police Department to reduce crime; the largest Habitat for Humanity partnership in the country in which $2 million has been raised and 20,000 volunteer hours contributed to renovations at more than 200 homes in the community; and a groundbreaking K-12 partnership that provides free tutoring and mentoring to students at neighboring schools as well as 350 full-tuition scholarships to low-income students who sought that academic assistance and are now paying it forward as college students by mentoring the next generation of K-12 students behind them. These projects have paid off in the form of significant declines in crime, increases in home values and a K-12 system that has the full weight of a university supporting it.