Grand Canyon University was founded as a nonprofit institution in 1949
Grand Canyon University was created because Arizona Southern Baptists felt the need to establish a faith-based institution that would allow local Baptists the opportunity to obtain a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree without going east to one of the Baptist colleges in Texas or Oklahoma.
In 2006, the Grand Canyon University campus received a US$150 million makeover including a brick promenade, an aquatics center, with pool and hot tub, and a café offering an assortment of games and big-screen televisions.
In 2009, Grand Canyon University’s campus began work on a $60 million campus expansion project which includes a 500-bed dormitory, a 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m2) fitness and recreation center, 125-classroom facility, food court and bowling alley, and a 5,000 seat arena. The GCU Arena, which opened on September 2, 2011, is utilized for secular and non-secular concerts, speakers, and events, as well as being home to Grand Canyon University’s Men’s and Women’s basketball teams, and Women’s Volleyball games, beginning in the fall of 2013. The three-year old arena is already undergoing major expansion beginning in Spring of 2014 with the goal of expanding to about 7,000 seats.
Two new residence halls opened in the fall of 2012, Sedona Hall and Camelback Hall, each with 500 beds. Two additional residence halls opened in the fall of 2013, Chaparral Hall and Saguaro Hall. Major upgrades have been made to the Student Union building, transforming the structure to a four-story building with two library floors, one Peet’s Coffee & Tea floor, and another cafeteria floor. An apartment-style residence hall, the Papago Apartments, opened in fall of 2014 along with another traditional residence hall, Ocotillo Hall. GCU also purchased the nearby Mesquite Apartments and opened them as student living facilities. The university has four new six-story residence halls planned to open in the fall of 2015 on newly-acquired land on the northeast part of campus.