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Grand Canyon University bursting with success, freshmen

(KTAR Photo/Holliday Moore)

PHOENIX -- This week the largest freshman class in school history moves onto Grand Canyon University campus. With 3,400 new faces entering the halls, it's hard to believe the campus was on the brink of bankruptcy just a decade ago.

"Today, we've got students coming from out of state," said Mike McFadden with university admissions. "A couple hundred from Washington, a couple hundred from Oregon, almost a thousand from California, Nevada, Colorado."

Dean of Students Pastor Tim Griffin stands outside with hundreds of volunteers greeting parents who drove cross- country with their kids. They're queued up in lines wrapping around the dormitories.

"We have about 300 students that are lugging luggage from the cars lined up outside the doors, up to the students' rooms," he said. "Many of them were freshmen last year and they came back to kind of pay back the experience that they had last year when they were freshmen."

Volunteers have grabbed boxes, bins and baggage and hauled them up two to five flights of stairs. When a piece of luggage gets lost, no one panics.

Griffin said there is a code of conduct instilled in the students -- to serve.

It appears to be working. The incoming freshmen will bring the school's enrollment to about 11,000 students on campus, up 25 percent since last year.

"Our average student has a GPA of 3.5," McFadden bragged. A decade ago, academic standouts wanting a faith-based education looked to campuses such as Pepperdine University near Los Angeles, Baylor University in Texas, or Wheaton College near Chicago. But many students are turned off by the higher price tags.

"Paying 30, 40, $50,000 a year, for some students … it's just not an option," McFadden said.

Students don't pay out-of state tuition or taxes. The average scholarship brings the total out-of-pocket tuition of most students to $7,800 a year.

It helps that the former Baptist college changed executive management in 2004 and became a publicly traded interdenominational institution in 2008.

About the Author

Holliday Moore is a Phoenix native with more than 25 years experience in the local and national broadcast and media industry. A graduate of ASU's journalism program, with a second major in Marketing & Management, she considers herself one of the lucky few to be doing exactly what she loves, writing and producing news.

In 2012, she won a prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for a light feature radio story on snakes. For the record, snakes do not say much! She is also honored to be one of two nominees this year for a Mark Twain Award involving her series on Arizona drowning cases.

Among her career accomplishments, Moore has taken home a television Emmy for Cultural Issues Reporting on the Navajo/Hopi Partition Land Act. She has also won numerous Emmy nominations for hard, soft and even sports reporting. However, Moore considers her highest achievement was on the day she received the prestigious Walter Cronkite Political Excellence Award for developing the Scripps Television stations' Democracy 2000 & 2002 program. Bob Morford, ABC 15's News Director at the time, asked Moore to head the project with one wish, "Try not to lose ratings," he said. "We not only did not lose ratings," says Moore, "We actually improved ratings between the coveted 5:00-6:30pm news block."

"She created, designed and executed the award winning program," recalls Morford, "Her efforts brought a great deal of notice and credit to our station."

Moore loves a challenge and is an adrenaline junky by nature. She ran 400 hurdles in college and more recently half marathons to raise thousands of dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She works part time for KTAR Radio while volunteering for her young son's elementary school and running a freelance media services business.


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