Humane Society University?

When the National Humane Society (which would later change its name to become HSUS) was first organized in 1954, it filed Articles of Incorporation in Delaware.

Here's what its officers articulated the second of their three main purposes:

The objects or purposes to be promoted or carried on are … (2) To use all means to further humane education in public and private schools, churches, farm groups, and youth organizations, and among the general public, provided, however, that the corporation shall not have the power to organize or conduct a private school. (emphasis added)

The Articles of Incorporation were amended in 1957, but only to change the group's name to the Humane Society of the United States. (We will elaborate on the reasons why in a separate post.) As far as we can tell, HSUS's board has never changed or replaced the language above. And this indicates to us that HSUS has no business going into the education business.

So we're at a loss to explain how HSUS has managed to "organize" and "conduct" something called Humane Society University—but there it is.

In its 2008 tax return, HSUS explains (p. 50):

Research and Education encompasses the HSUS's Planning and Evaluation unit, its higher education division, Humane Society University (HSU), its humane education division, Humane Society Youth, and its publishing division Humane Society Press (HSP) … Humane Society University (HSU) provides work-force training programs for the humane movement and with university partners offers [sic] certificate and degree programs in animal studies …

It's entirely possible that we've missed something, and that HSUS's voting members agreed at some point to allow the organization to ignore the original wishes of their incorporators. If that's the case, we're sure HSUS's lawyers will let us know.

But otherwise, it sure looks like HSUS is violating its own charter by operating a private school. This is from HSU's "about us" page:

Humane Society University is a private, non-profit institution offering a variety of online, hybrid, and classroom undergraduate degree, graduate certificate and professional development programs in human-animal studies. The University is based in the District of Columbia. Humane Society University offers five terms of intensive 8-week courses per year, for 3 credit hours per course. (emphasis added)

If anyone knows what's going on, we're all ears. Otherwise, we're going to start a conversation soon with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. We wonder how big the fine would be?

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