GCU growth includes increased community engagement, new options for students

Grand Canyon University has seen eye-popping growth as the university continues to expand its campus. Amid this growth, GCU continues to focus on its efforts to be a positive force in its Phoenix neighborhood. 

Between 2018 and 2022, GCU has experienced record growth, expanding the incoming class from 7,100 students to 9,700 students. Total enrollment has also grown from 20,500 in 2018 to 25,000 in 2022. This is a huge leap from the 1,000 students who were enrolled in 2008.

According to GCU Government Relations Director Dana Shaw, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry is a great resource for deciding which new programs to add to the nine colleges and more than 300 programs that are already being offered. 

“We have around 20 advisory boards on industry telling us what they need in their workforce and then being able to prepare students to make the jump from college into a successful career,” Shaw said. “The Chamber does an excellent job of facilitating conversations and developing relationships.” 

GCU President Brian Mueller attributes the growth to the university’s affordable tuition rates that have not changed in more than a decade and a campus that ranks in the top-20 nationwide.

A community asset and partner

As the campus expands, it is one of GCU’s top priorities to make the community around it safe for students and residents. The university is doing this through multiple partnerships with the City of Phoenix and other community groups as part of its five-point plan that focuses on creating jobs, improving community safety, raising home values, serving families in need, and supporting education.

To make the community safer, GCU has teamed with Phoenix PD to form a unique partnership. Through the first seven years of its 11-year, $2.2 million partnership, the community surrounding GCU has seen a nearly 20% decrease in crime, far greater than the 3.5% decrease citywide. 

Since its passage by the Phoenix City Council earlier this year, GCU has become actively involved in the 27th Ave. Pilot Program that aims to reverse the increasing crime and drug use rates that have been observed over the past few years in the corridor. Through the program, license plate readers and other cameras will be installed in the area. Shaw said that GCU had become involved through “advocacy for the program” and financial contributions.

GCU has also partnered with Habitat for Humanity to renovate an entire community near GCU. Since the partnership’s creation in 2015, over $4.5 million has been raised to renovate more than 400 homes. As a result, median home prices in the area surrounding GCU have risen almost 800%.

To support families in need, GCU has partnered with CityServe to create a vast network of connections with businesses ranging from retailers to farmers. Retailers like Costco and Home Depot drop off surplus inventory to the almost 90,000-square-foot warehouse near GCU. From there, GCU and CityServe are able to provide everything from appliances to food boxes for families. In just the first year of the program, retailers dropped off more than $2 million worth of merchandise.

Meeting students’ needs with more options

GCU provides many ways of getting a quality education. GCU offers traditional, online, and night programs that provide flexibility to meet people where they are. With satellite campuses in Tucson and Sun City and plans to build two more campuses in the East and West Valley, there are more ways than ever to attend GCU. 

One of the most exciting developments has been the introduction of pre-apprenticeship programs that began to be offered last year. “We’re supporting students that maybe don’t necessarily need a four year degree, but a little bit of training to get into some kind of apprenticeship or trade,” Shaw said.

As part of its education initiatives, GCU has created a K-12 learning lounge. According to Shaw, the lounge supports students by providing free tutoring for kids after school and has given GCU the opportunity to create “a scholarship program where we have been able to give out almost 650 full scholarships to students in this neighborhood.”
You can learn more about GCU here.

Nick Guptil

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