August 26, 2011
By Doug Carroll
A few minutes after 7 p.m. Thursday, the 11-member Chapel Band burst into song and GCU Arena came to life before an audience of about 2,500 new students and their families.
As the three high-definition video boards on the building's south end displayed song lyrics and live shots of the band, the crowd rose to its feet, and the significance of the occasion - the unofficial opening of the iconic facility - was lost on no one.
"You almost get chills when the lights come on for the first time," said GCU's director of athletics, Keith Baker, at the conclusion of Thursday's convocation. "When you see that, it gets you fired up."
Fired-up people could be found everywhere on this evening. Brian Mueller, GCU's chief executive officer, and the University's new dean of students, Pastor Tim Griffin, were among them.
"We're very blessed to be in here," Mueller told the gathering before making a joke about the day's high temperature of 113 degrees, a record for Aug. 25 in Phoenix.
"If you're not from Arizona, this heat is unusual," he said, "and that's the only lie I'll tell this year."
Quoting from 1 Corinthians 2:9, Griffin expressed gratitude for the new facilities throughout campus as well as the start of an academic year.
"This is a new step in our lives," he told the students. "God will surprise you during your time here. He is an incredible God. He will show you His goodness here."
GCU's president, Dr. Kathy Player, introduced Provost Cheri St. Arnauld and Deans Anne McNamara, Kimberly LaPrade, Mark Wooden, Kevin Barksdale, Claude Pensis, Hank Radda and Antoinette Marks. Many of the faculty and staff in attendance had helped earlier in the day as Luggage Luggers.
ASGCU President Anthony Mann quoted from Joshua 1:9 ("Be strong and courageous") and led the gathering in prayer. Welcoming skits were performed by resident advisers from the Office of Student Life, and Student Development DirectorJohn-Paul Reiger praised student leaders for their hard work on all aspects of Move-In.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or email@example.com.