On February 5, 2015, the operating assets of Alliant International University, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit institution, were acquired by Alliant International University, Inc., a California benefit corporation. Alliant thus became the first accredited, non-profit university in the United States to operate as a benefit corporation.
California’s public benefit corporation statute was enacted in 2011, and is intended to create a new class of corporate entity with characteristics of both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Like a not-for-profit, the benefit corporation will be guided by a social mission that must guide management decisions. At the same time, the benefit corporation will have investors and shareholders who are entitled to a financial return on their investments.
The statute governing benefit corporations requires that all decisions serve to balance the interests of clients of the organization, employees, the community and the environment along with those of shareholders. The law further requires an annual independent review process to assess the organization’s progress in serving its mission. This new corporate structure is intended to provide a new way for institutions serving the public good to gain access to a broader range of capital sources, with high standards for public accountability.
In December 2015, Alliant International University made history again by becoming the first standalone university in the United States to achieve B Corp Certification, given only to public benefit corporations meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. At the time, Vale Jokisch of B Lab, the company responsible for certifying benefit corporations said, “This is a significant achievement. Alliant is setting a high standard for impact measurement and transparency among for-profit higher education institutions, and we hope others will follow.”
Public Benefit Purpose
In keeping with its mission as an institution of higher education, Alliant International University seeks to make a positive impact on its students, communities, and the environment through the transmission of knowledge and skills, the discovery and application of knowledge, and the provision of various services. Higher education has long been seen as a public good, serving to advance the general welfare through the education of citizens, the creation of a skilled workforce, and the advancement of beneficial knowledge. Alliant seeks to fulfill its sole mission as an institution of higher education through the highest standards of ethical operations, best practices with respect to its students and employees, and as a valued institutional member of the communities in which it operates.
Institutions of higher education serve many stakeholders: students, their families, the communities in which they will live and work, the professions they will practice and lead, regulators and accreditors that validate quality, and the broader public that reasonably expects integrity in exchange for its various forms of support. Alliant holds itself to high standards of accountability through the publication of data directly related to its public purposes and educational mission.
The free and open exchange of information is a foundational principle of higher education. Alliant is committed to transparency in its operations, especially with respect to its pursuit of public benefits. Alliant is committed to the development and publication of evidence to help students and their families evaluate our educational programs, and to identify areas for improvement.
See our annual report here.