An Arizona university founded by Southern Baptists but sold in 2004 to become the first for-profit Christian college in the United States has dropped its bid to change back to a nonprofit entity.
Grand Canyon University’s self-perpetuating board of trustees sold the school founded in 1947 by what is now the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention after deciding that moving to for-profit status was the best path to shore up debt.
Grand Canyon Education, Inc., the for-profit company that now owns the university, said the arrangement worked well enough to regain financial footing, but the negative image of for-profit higher education — based on reasons both real and undeserved – prompted the board of directors to seek to return the school to its nonprofit roots in order to level the playing field in areas like tax status, raising money and participation in NCAA governance.
The university’s accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, rejected the proposal March 4, saying it did not meet the agency’s approval factors for such a change.
Leaders of Grand Canyon Education, Inc., said in a stockholder document they were disappointed by the decision and believe it was based on a misunderstanding of some of the details of the proposal, but they would not contest it.
“We intend to direct all of our energies toward the continued success of Grand Canyon University,” officials said. “We want to assure all of our stakeholders that this does not change our strategy going forward. We will eventually find the right path to accomplish our objectives and ensure the long-term mission and legacy of the institution.”