An 18-month bid to transition Grand Canyon University from a for-profit university into a nonprofit ended Friday, after the university’s accreditor denied the school’s bid.

University President Brian Mueller held a news conference, expressing his disappointment in the Higher Learning Commission’s decision to not allow the school to convert back into a nonprofit entity.

Grand Canyon University operated as a nonprofit from the time it was founded in 1949 until 2004, when the school was on the verge of bankruptcy. The University transitioned into a for-profit entity and eventually filed an initial public offering in 2008, which helped the school achieve financial stability.

The for-profit education sector has see issues arise in recent years. When the University saw its own stock was undervalued, Mueller said, the school thought it would be a good time to transition back into a nonprofit, and purchase its stocks at premium.

Nonprofit status forGCU would change the university’s tax status, give the university access to philanthropic channels that are currently closed off, access to research grants and full NCAA voting power, Mueller said.

If GCU wanted to continue its bid to become a nonprofit, then the entire 18-month process would have to be restarted, Mueller said. The university will not continue its nonprofit bid at this time.

In the university’s bid to become a nonprofit, the school would split between Grand Canyon University and Grand Canyon Education. The Higher Learning Commission said the university’s nonprofit segment would only provide “oversight” of “academic and student support services and curriculum,” which is in violation of the board’s criteria for accreditation.

Mueller said that is not the case and that the board distorted the meaning of the university’s proposed transaction. If the school was allowed to turn into a nonprofit, all of the faculty and staff would remain employed by the University as they are today, and would still have control over all education content, courses and programs, he stated.

While GCU worked to propose its bid for nonprofit status, staff members from the Higher Learning Commission visited the campus, asking vigorous questions to determine if the university could conduct the transition from for-profit to nonprofit.

The commission staff concluded, “Despite the varied concerns identified in this report, the institution is extremely well positioned to conduct this transaction successfully.”

The commission’s board still denied the bid, Mueller said, without taking the time to ask the university any questions, so the university could advise its proposal to turn back into a nonprofit.

“That’s the big disappointment and that is what was wrong,” Mueller said. “With the complexity of the transaction and 18 months work, the fact that the visiting team recommended it, that the IRS was in support of it, we were not given the respect to answer a single question.”