PHOENIX, Feb. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Grand Canyon University is continuing to expand its philanthropic efforts with the hiring of Dr. T. Kale Gober as Vice President of Advancement.
"The efforts of our Advancement Office are really starting to have an impact, and the addition of Dr. Gober will take that even further," said GCU President Brian Mueller. "He understands the Christian mission of our institution, as well as the importance of engaging GCU alumni, donors and friends with the intent of sharing our strategic vision to secure private support for our students and faculty. There are a lot of donors who have seen what has and continues to transpire here and want to back us in a big way."
Gober joins GCU after spending the past four years rebuilding the Division of Advancement at the University of Central Arkansas. Prior to UCA, he served as Assistant Athletic Director for Development at the University of Arkansas. He started his career at his alma mater, Henderson State University, where he served as the Director of Athletics for three years.
Gober said his priority will be to further expand the culture of philanthropy at GCU through fundraising campaigns that enable the University to continue to invest in state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and student amenities while also impacting the surrounding community. One of those efforts is a Students Inspiring Students (SIS) pay-it-forward scholarship program that already has awarded 261 full-tuition scholarships in four years to high-achieving high school seniors who seek academic assistance at GCU's Learning Lounge and otherwise couldn't afford to go to college.
The Learning Lounge is a free tutoring/mentoring program in which GCU's best and brightest students offer academic assistance to any K-12 student who seeks it. Since its inception in 2013, the Learning Lounge program has impacted 150 schools in its diverse inner-city community, serving more than 3,000 K-12 students with over 40,000 visits and over 100,000 hours of study. Students who receive the SIS scholarships pay it forward while in college by providing tutoring and mentoring to the next generation of K-12 students behind them.
"President Mueller would like to grow that scholarship program to 800 students," Gober said, "and I think people will get behind that when they see the impact it is having."
Gober said two things stood out when he visited GCU's campus for the first time.
"First, it was clear that GCU's innovative approach to higher education is benefitting students and families in incredibly positive ways. The other thing that jumped out at me was the unapologetically Christian atmosphere. It was as real as the incredible facilities were. GCU is committed to educating students through a Christian worldview, and this is a movement of which I am excited to be a part.
"I've always had two passions -- the power of higher education and advocating for social equality – and I've been fortunate to build relationships and solicit support for the past decade at three wonderful institutions; it's very rewarding to feel like your work is making a difference. GCU is making a tremendous impact through Christian education, and I'm excited to lead a team that is committed to engaging alumni, donors and friends who will be excited to be part of what God is doing at Grand Canyon University."
GCU has made private Christian education affordable to all socioeconomic classes of Americans by freezing tuition costs on its Phoenix campus for 12 straight years. That has allowed the University to grow its enrollment from fewer than 1,000 students in 2008 to more than 22,000 in 2019-20, which, in turn, has led to a very diverse student body that is 48% students of color, including 29% Latino and 7% African American.
The Learning Lounge/SIS initiative is part of GCU's grander vision to revitalize its neighborhood through a five-point plan aimed at returning the community to its middle-class roots. The five-point plan also involves:
- Increasing home values through the largest home renovation project in the country with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit Christian housing ministry that builds and repairs houses all over the world. GCU provides the funding and volunteer manpower that, since 2015, has raised more than $2 million and contributed more than 20,000 volunteer hours to renovate more than 250 homes in the neighborhood. Coupled with GCU's expanded presence in the community, home values have increased 302% since 2011 in the 85017 zip code.
- Improving neighborhood safety through a $1.6 million partnership with the Phoenix Police Department. The initiative pays for police officers' overtime to suppress crime in the areas surrounding the university campus. In the first seven years of the program, crimes in the targeted areas decreased 20% (compared to a 1% drop city-wide during the same time frame).
- Creating jobs on campus through GCU's continued growth. The number of people employed by GCU and its partners has tripled to more than 11,000 in 10 years.
- Creating jobs in the West Valley by launching 10 new business enterprises that provide management opportunities for recent graduates and employment opportunities for current students and neighborhood residents, while spurring economic growth in the area. Among the new businesses are a hotel, golf course, two public restaurants, a coffee company, a merchandise company and a student ad agency that collectively employ about 400 people. GCU has also launched Canyon Ventures, a business incubator space that, in its first five months, already had attracted more than 30 companies.
The next step, Gober said, "is to build a comprehensive advancement operation that will benefit students and our community for generations to come. That starts with engaging alumni and donors in meaningful ways and changing the culture of generosity and philanthropy around Christian education."
About Grand Canyon University: Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 and is Arizona's premier private Christian university. GCU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers more than 230 academic programs, emphases and certificates 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.
SOURCE Grand Canyon University