Letter from Greater Phoenix Chamber

October 25, 2023

Dr. Miguel Cardona
Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Secretary Cardona,

I am writing on behalf of the Greater Phoenix Chamber, Arizona’s largest and most established business organization, to voice our support for Grand Canyon University (GCU) and the impact it has on needed workforce development within the Greater Phoenix Region and Arizona as a whole. It is our understanding that GCU and the Department of Education (Department) have been having ongoing discussions regarding the university’s nonprofit status. We sincerely hope these disagreements can be resolved in a timely and amicable manner.

GCU has a long history of being a nonprofit institution in Arizona, decades before taking on an investor in 2004 to avoid bankruptcy and gain access to capital in order to grow the university. GCU successfully reverted to its historical nonprofit status in 2018 in the eyes of the IRS and all other regulatory bodies except for the Department.

Grand Canyon is important to the State of Arizona not only from an economic impact standpoint by contributing $2.1 billion annually, but more importantly for the critical impact it has on the state’s workforce needs and the countless contributions it makes to the public good through
its many outreach initiatives as a Christian university. One of the Chamber’s mission pillars is advancing workforce development, and GCU has been a tremendous partner in those efforts.

Arizona is a state that historically has been vastly underserved from the standpoint of private higher education options compared to other states, and in GCU, Arizona now has the largest Christian university in the country. GCU educates over 100,000 students every year in programs that are critical to Arizona’s residents, businesses, hospitals, and school districts. GCU is one of the largest providers of businesspeople, nurses, and teachers in the state and, in fact, the country and has an ever-growing number of graduates in the fields of engineering and technology.

In addition, GCU is committed to ensuring that higher education is affordable to all socioeconomic classes and has frozen tuition on its Phoenix campus for 15 straight years, leading to below average debt levels and low cohort loan default rates for its students and helping to produce 30,000 graduates on an annual basis. It has also led to a very diverse student body that is 28% Hispanic, 6% Black, and over 40% students of color. GCU’s efforts have been instrumental in creating social mobility for Arizonans who otherwise may not have considered college an option.

GCU is highly regarded by many in Arizona and in higher education, including their accrediting bodies. Given that, the imposition of fines or significant penalties seems highly punitive and targeted in nature, given all of the bigger challenges facing higher education. The issues being discussed by the Department and other federal agencies feel like things that could easily be resolved by two amicable parties.

In closing, it is the Chamber’s hope that the Department will work cooperatively with GCU on these disagreements and also provide a path forward in which the Department will recognize GCU’s lawful status as a nonprofit entity, as all other regulatory bodies have done.

If I can answer any questions or provide any additional information, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.


Todd Sanders

President & CEO

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