One of the largest Christian universities in the U.S. says it’s being targeted by three federal agencies after filing suit over its nonprofit status.
Grand Canyon University says the Department of Education, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Veterans Affairs are picking on it in retaliation of a lawsuit from 2021.
“While such accusations may sound extraordinary, the facts in this document make clear that this is occurring at an alarming level for government agencies to be taking against the largest Christian university in the country,” the university posted to its GCU News website last week. “Since GCU filed its lawsuit, these agencies have swamped the university and its education partner with broad requests for voluminous amounts of information and records about our operations – the scope of which made it clear these requests were part of a broad fishing expedition to find issue with the university.”
To comply, the university says it has spent millions in legal costs to ensure timely submission of the information.
“After these comprehensive reviews, the only ‘findings’ these agencies have shared with us are seemingly minor in nature, yet they attach labels such as ‘substantial misrepresentations’ or ‘deceptive and misleading’ to taint the university as a bad actor when all available evidence is to the contrary,” the university wrote.
For example, the Department of Education asked the university to review every student’s file from an eight-year period, costing the university 3,500 staff hours to meet the request it says was unnecessary.
GCU says it firmly denies all allegations made against it by the agencies and says it is prepared to defend itself through any necessary means.
“To be frank, the substance of these claims is so frivolous that they could have easily been resolved in a 10-minute phone call had the agencies chosen to do so,” GCU stated. “We would have disagreed with the agencies’ conclusions but believe a reasonable accommodation could have been reached in each case in a spirit of cooperation. Instead, the agencies have chosen to, quite literally, make a federal case out of what should be minor disagreements.”
GCU is asking the Department of Education to recognize its nonprofit status, the subject of the university’s 2021 lawsuit.
Despite the legal disputes, GCU welcomed its largest incoming class last year and has only continued to see a rise in student attendance, according to its official website. This year an estimated 118,000 students are enrolled.