Tag Archives: nonprofit status

GCU - TNA Wrestling

GCU considers return to nonprofit status

Grand Canyon University announced Wednesday that its Board of Directors has formed a committee of independent directors to explore strategic alternatives to its investment-based business model, including a return to the nonprofit status it held from 1949 to 2004. In particular, the Board chose to form the committee after the university’s management expressed a desire to explore the possibility of effecting a conversion of the university to a non-profit entity.

Brian Mueller, president and CEO of GCU, issued the following statement regarding that decision:

“As a management team, we have decided to look into the possibility of returning the university to its historical non-profit status because we believe it may be in the best long-term interest of our students and our university, as well as our stockholders.

“Whether or not this process is successful – and there is a great deal of legal and financial due diligence that must be conducted to determine if it could be possible – the growth and upward trajectory of the university will continue. The financial model of the institution has produced high-quality, low-cost private Christian higher education and we have found there is no end to the demand for this product. This process will not change the university’s operations or future plans. The university will continue to invest in its ground campus with plans to grow enrollment to 25,000 students. It will continue to invest in its growing online student body. Its academic and operational plans will remain the same. Its partnerships with the city of Phoenix – the Neighborhood Safety Initiative, a drowning prevention program, graffiti abatement, the mentorship and tutoring of high school students – will continue. And extensive community outreach efforts and servant leadership will continue to be a hallmark of the university.

Why the change

“To fully understand why we are seeking to pursue this change, you must look at Grand Canyon’s history. In 2004, after 55 years as a small non-profit private university, GCU was $20 million in debt and about to close its doors. Without a large donor base to turn to or the ability to rely on tax dollars, the university remained afloat by becoming a for-profit university, securing investor funding and adding an online component to its academic offerings.

“During the next four years, GCU improved its financial position, but in order to grow out the campus and ensure long-term stability, it went to the public markets in 2008 for an infusion of capital to invest into the university. As a result of those investments, GCU today has a strong hybrid campus model that has enabled the school to freeze campus tuition for six straight years, grow enrollment on the ground campus from less than 1,000 to nearly 11,000 in just six years, and increase online enrollment to 55,000.

“GCU experienced this remarkable success even as the for-profit sector of higher education hit a steep decline. Since 2010, 12 of the top 13 for-profit educational institutions in the country have had significant drops in enrollment and closed parts of their operations. The one exception, of course, has been Grand Canyon University.

“We do not have a philosophical issue with having a for-profit status and having investors. However, the stigma surrounding the for-profit industry – some of which is deserved, and some not – is real and it is not improving. And no matter what GCU does to separate itself, its detractors continue to try to use this stigma to detract from GCU’s success. Some of those in the higher education community who have been impacted by our success have questioned our motives. Fortunately, this has had no impact on the university’s growth or perception to this point.

“GCU looks and acts like a traditional private university or state university in almost every way. Since becoming a publicly traded company in 2008, more than 100 percent of its after-tax profits have been reinvested back into the university. In addition, none of the federal government’s new regulations aimed at curbing for-profit schools will materially affect GCU, as it surpasses those metrics in every way while also having cohort default rates well below industry standards and those of many of its competitors.

“Grand Canyon is truly unique – an industry of one, if you will. No other university has used a publicly traded for-profit business model to build out its ground campus and develop all of the trappings of a traditional university, including music, dance, theater, debate, intramural sports and a Division I athletic program. Yet, with a stagnant stock price and growing negatives associated with the for-profit industry, we believe it is the right time to consider an alternative to that model if it could be done in a way that would provide shareholders a fair return on their investment while also ensuring the long-term stability and legacy of the institution.”

Academic quality to remain the top priority

“Like any university, GCU should be judged by the outcomes its graduates produce and its commitment to the community in which it exists, not simply by its tax status. Among those outcomes for traditional students.”

n  GCU’s nursing graduates have a first-time pass rate of 94 percent on professional licensure exams over the last three years (the national average was 71 percent in 2013);

n  Teaching graduates also pass their professional knowledge exams at more than 90 percent and had a 100 percent placement rate for 2014 spring graduates seeking employment in education;

• GCU’s pre-med students get accepted into medical schools at a 75 percent rate (the national average is 42 percent);

• Nearly 90 percent of its Colangelo College of Business students are employed within six months of graduation;

• GCU is adding to its over-160 academic programs to include computer science, information technology and engineering; and

• GCU is involved in more than 120 service projects that are making huge differences in its community.

Local First Arizona Champions Buying Locally - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

Local First Arizona Champions Buying Locally

Today, people generally recognize the importance of shopping locally and supporting our region’s independently owned and operated businesses. But that wasn’t always the case. As recently as seven years ago, the concept was nearly unheard of in Arizona. But in 2003, Kimber Lanning, of the independently owned and operated Stinkweeds music store, started Local First Arizona, then called Arizona Chain Reaction, in an effort to bring the community together and support each other.

“People weren’t really connecting,” says Lanning, who lives in and loves the Phoenix area.

That love of Phoenix compelled her to start a crusade for local, independent store owners. That crusade turned into Local First Arizona, a statewide organization aimed at helping to strengthen local communities in Arizona, bring them together and encourage them to support one another. And she did it one person at a time.

“I just started knocking on doors,” Lanning says of her start-up approach to educating local residents about the importance of celebrating the uniqueness of independently owned businesses in their very own neighborhoods versus the chain stores.

In 2006, she applied for 501(c)3 nonprofit status and changed the name from Arizona Chain Reaction to Local First Arizona to better reflect the goal and mission of the organization — to help people understand the benefits of buying locally and to build a better sense of community.

“I think neighborhoods are finally realizing how important it is (to buy locally),” she says. “It’s like it finally just dawned on us that we can create diverse and unique cities … we can control this.”

It is part of Local First’s mission to educate people on the facts about the real benefits of shopping locally. Studies show that for every $100 spent in a locally owned business, approximately $42 stays in the state. If that same $100 is spent in a chain store, just $13 of it stays right here.

In 2008, Lanning created the Small Wonders maps, pocket-sized guides — one each for Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale — that list unique shopping and dining destinations in the three defined areas. Lanning printed 75,000 copies of the Phoenix version, and downloadable versions of the maps also are available at www.localfirstaz.com. She says the buzz around the maps has been incredible.

“They’ve really taken off,” Lanning says. “Now is the best time to promote independent businesses.”

Indeed that remains one of Lanning’s biggest challenges, managing the rapid (“almost too rapid”) growth of her concept, along with securing funding. But she hasn’t let the latter stop her.

“With any new concept, it’s difficult to secure funding,” she says. “So I’m running it like an entrepreneur would, rather than relying on grants.”
Local First currently has 1,800 members, but Lanning has high hopes for the future.

“As I’ve gotten more involved, I’ve realized things we need,” she says.

She hopes to develop awareness for the adaptive reuse of existing buildings to ensure sustainability, increase business-to-business support, grow membership to 5,000, and develop a diversified staff that can offer programs, benefits and support for the state’s locally owned businesses.
Lanning, whose very own personal business, Stinkweeds, resides in the Central Corridor, is thrilled as she talks about the recent growth and development in the Downtown area.

“I am overjoyed to watch the city growing into itself,” she says. “It’s phenomenal. I feel like I’m in the right place at the right time.”

But Doug MacKenzie, director of communications at the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, thinks it’s more than just a little luck. He credits Local First and Lanning with driving the unique farm-to-table food product and for helping Phoenix become a culinary destination in its own right — complete with amazing farmer’s markets and unique events. One such event was the recent Devoured Culinary Classic at the Phoenix Art Museum, which Local First spearheaded and co-sponsored.

MacKenzie says that due to efforts by Local First, locals and visitors to the Phoenix area have the opportunity to “really experience the authentic and native foods of the region and the Southwest. Local First is great for promoting our culinary scene.”

More than just promoting local dining establishments, Local First also seeks to bring together communities, neighborhoods and people — one door at a time.

www.localfirstaz.com

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010