PHOENIX, Aug. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Grand Canyon University is kicking off the 2016-17 school year by fostering in its growing student body an entrepreneurial spirit that has been the hallmark of its success.
When classes start Aug. 29, the university will welcome a record 17,500 students on its campus with a second engineering building, expanded curriculum in STEM and other high-growth fields, and new enterprises that offer students and graduates practical experience in business management and operations.
"We want to instill in our GCU community the entrepreneurial spirit that pervades every corner of our campus," said university President Brian Mueller. "The university itself is the epitome of entrepreneurship given our history, and we are creating opportunities for our students to get first-hand experience in cultivating that spirit."
GCU has expanded the curriculum in its College of Science, Engineering and Technology to include 25 specializations. Throughout the university, 60 percent of students are studying in STEM-related fields. The university also is putting the finishing touches on a 170,000-square-foot engineering building as part of a larger initiative to meet the demand for science, technology, engineering and math professionals in Arizona, where there are more than twice as many jobs as there are graduates to fill them.
With an entrepreneurial spirit in mind, GCU is launching a host of business enterprises, too. The idea is to afford recent graduates management opportunities while bolstering the economy in its west Phoenix neighborhood. Among the ventures is Grand Canyon Beverage Company, a coffeehouse with two locations on the university's west Phoenix campus and another site off campus that will open to the public later this academic year.
The university also is finalizing plans for Canyon Promotions, which will create merchandise and apparel for companies across the country, a resale store called Canyon Exchange, and a film studio that can be used for Hollywood films. GCU has already launched Canyon Worship, which produces original music by students in the university's worship arts program, the Grand Canyon University Hotel, GCU Golf Course and two public restaurants – Canyon 49 Grill and the Lope House.
Revenue from the enterprises will help the university continue to hold the line on tuition – which has been frozen on its ground campus for eight straight years – and fund projects that will benefit current GCU students, Mueller said.
"We are looking for every opportunity to help our students, graduates and members of our larger community succeed," Mueller said.
To that end, the university has opened a Small Business Consulting Center, with free seminars, resources and one-on-one consulting for existing business owners, along with support for aspiring entrepreneurs in launching their start-up ventures.
Another area of focus is the newly opened Grand Canyon Theological Seminary, which builds upon GCU's theological curriculum with 12 graduate degree programs. The goal, according to Dr. Jason Hiles, dean of GCU's College of Theology, is to prepare the next generation of ministers for the church.
Aside from academics, GCU's 300-acre campus also continues to take shape in the midst of a 10-year, $1 billion expansion.
Among this year's notable projects:
The university opened three six-story, apartment-style dormitories, along with two parking garages.
The new four-story Student Life Building houses the university's Spiritual Life, Residence Life, Associated Students of GCU, Athletics and Counseling departments, as well as administrative offices.
GCU is nearing completion of a major renovation at 27th Avenue and Camelback Road, which houses the 152-room GCU Hotel, a resort-like pool, the 200-seat Canyon 49 Grill restaurant and a new office complex that will bring more than 2,000 university employees into the neighborhood each day, strengthening the local economy and enhancing the character of the area.
Construction is underway on 10 athletics facilities – from new baseball, softball and beach volleyball stadiums to a new basketball practice facility and a state-of-the-art soccer stadium that will open to a sellout crowd on Aug. 26.
Although its campus expansion is nearly complete, Mueller said GCU would "continue to be an incubator for new ideas that arm students with the skills they need to succeed, create jobs and lift up our community."
About Grand Canyon University: Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 and is Arizona's premier private Christian university. GCU is regionally accredited and offers more than 200 academic programs for both traditional undergraduate students and working professionals. The University's curriculum emphasizes interaction with classmates, both in-person and online, and individual attention from instructors while fusing academic rigor with Christian values to help students find their purpose and become skilled, caring professionals. For more information, visit gcu.edu.