Grand Canyon University said today it was renaming its business college after Jerry Colangelo, the Valley’s sports and real estate magnate who already was working with the for-profit Christian school.
The Colangelo College of Business, as it will be known, is intended to provide “real-world relevance” to future generations of “values-driven business leaders,” school officials said of the move. Colangelo already was the namesake of GCU’s school of sports business and had served briefly on the company’s board of directors.
“It’s a matter of giving back in an area where I’ve spent 4½ decades,” Colangelo said of his background in sports and business development. “I want people to reach their dreams.”
Colangelo, 74, replaces Ken Blanchard, the business leadership author who had served as the namesake of the business school for a decade. Blanchard and GCU mutually agreed in June to end the relationship, school officials said.
Colangelo agreed to lend his name to the school at no extra cost to the university, although he is compensated as an adviser to the basketball program, a spokesman said.
For GCU, Colangelo adds his prominence and visibility to the school’s aim of attracting students from the Southwest and keeping them in Arizona afterward, said Brian Mueller, the company’s president and CEO. Colangelo is a respected and recognizable figure and also embodies the school’s religious values, Mueller said.
“He talks about coming from the wrong side of the tracks in Chicago,” Mueller said. “It’s all been very entrepreneurial. It’s a very good business story. It’s also how he’s lived his life. … He’s a man of faith. We want to hold that up as an inspiration for the next 50 years.”
The rebranding effort is also likely to intensify GCU’s efforts at competing with Arizona State University, which has for years touted its W.P. Carey School of Business and its growing online offerings.
Colangelo, the former owner of the Phoenix Suns and former managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has helped boost the sports business program at GCU and advised the school’s basketball program.
He helped bring in former Phoenix Sun Dan Majerle as GCU’s coach and consulted on the school’s new basketball arena in Phoenix.
The sports business program has about 700 students in its Arizona operations and online. The business school as a whole has about 2,000 students in its classrooms and another 8,000 online.
He said he intends for the business school to build on its emphasis of leadership that embraces “conscious capitalism,” ethics and entrepreneurship. Colangelo is expected to help establish a board of advisers and partnerships with the business community that provide students internships and job opportunities.
GCU offers undergraduate, graduate and executive degrees in areas ranging from accounting to marketing to business administration. Under Colangelo, it expects to add specializations in hospitality and golf management and a graduate degree program in sports business.
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