Grand Canyon University Hosts Largest Commencement Ceremonies

May 02, 2009, 17:30 ET from Grand Canyon University

Graduates topping 4,500 bring out both traditional and online students and supporters

PHOENIX, May 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Grand Canyon University's (GCU) graduation ceremonies today demonstrate the spirit of camaraderie that is created with you combine the traditional campus environment of a university with the virtual classroom created through online learning.

"Our students, perhaps because of our mission, truly delight in getting to know one another and sharing their experiences, regardless of whether they are on campus or in an online program," said GCU President Kathy Player.

GCU bestowed 4,600-plus baccalaureate and graduate degrees, with more than 80 percent of those degrees in education and healthcare. With an audience of 15,000, the commencement was the largest that GCU has hosted, and took place at Chase Field.

"This synergy really comes to life at our commencement ceremonies. Students come from all over the country, often bringing their extended family and friends, to share in what they've accomplished," Player said.

Among the online students graduating was veteran California Angels baseball player Tim Salmon, who received a business degree in Applied Management from the Ken Blanchard College of Business. Salmon returned to GCU to complete his education after starting at the University in the mid-80s, before turning pro. Since graduation was at Chase Field, Salmon was invited to "throw the first pitch" and kick off the ceremony.

Of the 4,659 degrees, two-thirds were in the College of Education with 3,082 graduates, followed by the College of Nursing and Health Sciences with 787 degrees. The Ken Blanchard College of Business had 641 graduates and the College of Liberal Arts had 149 graduates.

More than 3,500 of the students received graduate degrees. The majority of the degrees were given to online students (3,864), and most of those attending the ceremonies came from outside the metro area to attend convocation and graduation ceremonies.

GCU is one of the few universities in the country that successfully marries a strong, traditional campus student community with an online curriculum that enables both campus students and working professionals to complete their degrees.

About Grand Canyon University

Founded in 1949, Grand Canyon University is a traditional regionally accredited, private, Christian university offering campus-based and online bachelor's and master's degree programs through the Ken Blanchard College of Business, College of Education, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and College of Liberal Arts. The Phoenix-based school is ranked as having one of the top online education programs by OEDb (Online Education Database). GCU emphasizes individual attention for both traditional undergraduate students as well as the working professional. For more information visit

SOURCE Grand Canyon University