United States International University

United States International University (USIU) was a nonprofit university based in San Diego, California that was accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.[1] At its peak, it had two additional American campuses and three international locations. It was merged into Alliant International University in 2001.

United States International University
Former name
Balboa Law College
Balboa University
California Western University
Active1924 (1924)–2001 (2001)
FounderLeland Ghent Stanford
AccreditationWestern Association of Schools and Colleges
CampusMultiple sites including:
San Diego, Maui, Steamboat Springs, Wiesbaden, Vienna, Hong Kong, London, Mexico City and Nairobi (USIU Africa)
Merged intoAlliant International University
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I
Websitewww.usiu.edu (archived copy as of 2000)


USIU's roots date back to the Balboa Law College, which was founded in 1924 in downtown San Diego by Leland Ghent Stanford. It was San Diego's first law school. The college gradually added other courses of study and changed its name to Balboa University.[2] In 1952 it changed its name to California Western University and moved to a historic oceanfront campus in San Diego's Point Loma neighborhood.[3] William C. Rust became its president in 1953.[4]

In 1966, Rust began transforming the university's vision "to create global understanding through a single university with campuses all over the world."[5][3] In 1968 he changed the school's name to United States International University, whose founding goal was to focus on "human excellence" and not simply "intellectual excellence".[6] The San Diego Reader later referred to USIU as an "international phenomenon".[5] Rust purchased land for a new campus in Scripps Ranch, and all university operations were moved there by 1973.[2] California Western School of Law kept its separate name and identity and remained on the Point Loma campus until 1973, when it moved to downtown San Diego. In 1975 it split off from USIU into an independent entity that is still in operation.[2]

In the early 1980s, USIU held a broadcast license to operate KUSI-TV, a startup UHF television station in San Diego. To launch the station, USIU partnered with Mike McKinnon, who owned television stations in Texas and KSON radio in San Diego. It went on in 1982; after a protracted dispute, USIU sold its stake to McKinnon, who had blocked attempts to sell to other parties. KUSI still exists as an independent station.[7]

USIU undertook a program of international expansion, but was soon plagued by financial trouble due to aggressive and far reaching expansion of "international centers" in Wiesbaden, Vienna, and Hong Kong coupled with bankruptcy litigation of the University's largest financier, US Financial Securities Corporation.[5] In 1986, Rust was still breaking new ground for buildings and maintaining focus on further expansion in Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and Russia.[8][5][9]

After 37 years of leading the university and enduring several rocky financial episodes, Rust was removed from all governing power by the board of trustees in 1990.[8] Gary Hays, former chancellor of the Minnesota State University, took over as president of USIU in April 1990 and reorganized the University into just two remaining colleges; arts and sciences and business administration.[10] All sports programs were eliminated due to the University's indebtedness.[11]

The university was able to continue and restored smaller athletic programs for soccer, tennis and cross country competing in the NAIA. However, the September 11 attacks and subsequent loss of international student enrollment tuition proved to be final for USIU.[9] In 2001, it merged with the California School of Professional Psychology to form Alliant International University.[9][12] Both CSPP and USIU were not-for-profit schools with similar needs and complementing resources.[9] At the time of their merger the newly formed AIU had an undergraduate student body that was 33% international students and 30% ethnic minority group students and an annual budget of $60 million.[9] In 2015, Alliant International University became a for-profit benefit corporation.[13]

International focusEdit

The university's main campus from 1952 to 1973 was the land that is now occupied by Point Loma Nazarene University.[14] With the name change to USIU the university moved to its new campus in Scripps Ranch, and opened national campuses in Maui and Steamboat Springs as well as international campuses in London, Mexico City, and Nairobi. Additional campuses were proposed. The Nairobi campus is the only one that still exists and is now known as United States International University Africa.[6][15] The multi-campus, international concept shaped the university with its student focus and core curriculum. In the late 1980s USIU became known for catering to wealthy international students, including royalty from the Middle East.[16] In 2001, a yearbook photo from 1990 of Osama bin Laden's brother attending USIU became public.[16]

Division I sportsEdit

The USIU Gulls football team produced five professional football players. The legendary Sid Gillman was head coach for four months during an offseason before his final coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles.[17] In just four months, "Gillman turned the team into a west coast legend".[17] In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Al Palmiotto, USIU's athletic director during Gillman's time, recalled that Gillman said, “What a lucky son-of-a-bitch I am finding a place like this for the last years of my life."[18] Four of the coaches he recruited all went on to have extensive careers in the NFL: Tom Walsh, John Fox, Mike Solari and Mike Sheppard. Two players he recruited became NFL starters: Bob Gagliano and Vernon Dean.[17]

USIU's international presence and student body allowed it to maintain an NCAA Division I hockey team, the USIU Gulls, which was the only NCAA hockey team west of the Rockies.[15] In 1980, Sports Illustrated covered the team's triumphs with a 16-8-2 record in article titled "Beach Boys on Blades".[15] However, in 1990 after operating for 10 years and producing two NHL Pittsburgh Penguins players — Darren Lowe and Pat Mayer — the program was dropped due to the rising costs associated with "traveling 2,000 miles to compete".[19]

USIU also maintained an NCAA Division I basketball team which has been referred to as the "greatest show in college basketball" and the "forgotten team of San Diego".[20] When playing for the USIU Gulls, former Navy star player and earlier teammate of David Robinson, Kevin Bradshaw recorded an NCAA record for the most points in a single game versus an NCAA Division I team (72 points in a loss to Loyola Marymount).[20] He was the first African-American coach in professional Israeli basketball history and the subject of a 2012 documentary "Shooting from home".[21][20]

USIU's softball team appeared in one Women's College World Series in 1982.[22] The Gulls defeated Ohio State 1–0 in the team's first game. Freshman pitcher Jenny Stallard then hurled an eight-inning perfect game to stun top-seeded and eventual tournament champion, Texas A&M, 1–0 in the team's second game.[22] However, losses to Michigan and Central Michigan ended the Gulls' season.

Notable peopleEdit

Notable faculty included Jamie Foxx, Lem Burnham, and Igor Ansoff, the "father of Strategic Management".[14][23][6][24]



  1. ^ Smollar, David (1991-05-24). "USIU Would Sell Properties Under Bailout Plan". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  2. ^ a b c Ross, Bob (Summer 2014). "A Look Back at California Western's Remarkable Journey". Cal Western School of Law. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  3. ^ a b "(287)California Western University". lost-colleges. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  4. ^ Website, USIU-Africa. "History of USIU-Africa". USIU-Africa Website. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  5. ^ a b c d "Willam Rust and the early troubles of USIU | San Diego Reader". www.sandiegoreader.com. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  6. ^ a b c "Cal Western Football". calwesternfootball.com. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  7. ^ "KUSI-TV drops UPN, assumes independent status". Electronic Media. 17 (2): 36. January 1998.
  8. ^ a b Granberry, Michael (12 January 1990). "Rust, USIU President 37 Years, Is Benched by Troubled School". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ a b c d e Blackston, Michelle Cadwell; Transcript, San Diego Daily (2001-11-28). "New AIU president has put rocky times behind her". The Daily Transcript. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  10. ^ "San Diego : USIU Saves With Cuts in Programs". Los Angeles Times. 1992-07-30. Retrieved 2020-09-14.
  11. ^ "USIU Trustees Vote to Eliminate Athletics : Gulls: Men's basketball team gets a reprieve. It will be allowed to finish this season". Los Angeles Times. 29 December 1990.
  12. ^ "Our Story | Alliant Intl University". www.alliant.edu. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  13. ^ "Alliant International University becomes 'for-profit benefit corporation'". Education Dive. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  14. ^ a b "Old college teammates agree that Cal Western 'was a good fit'". San Diego Union-Tribune. 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2020-08-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ a b c Blumenstock, Kathy. "The beach boys on blades". Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  16. ^ a b "Did Bin Laden's Brother Live a Secret Life in San Diego? | San Diego Reader". www.sandiegoreader.com. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  17. ^ a b c "Cal Western University Player". calwesternfootball.com. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  18. ^ Zimmerman, Paul. "Best of Dr. Z: 1991 Sid Gillman feature". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  19. ^ Hazeltine, Rick (1988-04-23). "Hockey Dropped by USIU". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-08-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ a b c "The USIU Soaring Gulls were the greatest show in college basketball". FanSided. 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  21. ^ Shooting for Home, retrieved 2020-08-08
  22. ^ a b Plummer, William; Floyd, Larry C. (2013). A Series Of Their Own: History Of The Women's College World Series. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States: Turnkey Communications Inc. ISBN 978-0-9893007-0-4.
  23. ^ "5 Reasons You Gotta Know ... Jamie Foxx". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  24. ^ "Who is Igor Ansoff?". www.ansoffmatrix.com. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  25. ^ "Cal Western University Player". calwesternfootball.com. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  26. ^ Roberts, Ozzie. "Old college teammates agree that Cal Western 'was a good fit'". sandiegouniontribune.com. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  27. ^ "EAST COUNTY SPORTS - Real Sports... Real Time". www.eastcountysports.com. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  28. ^ Katzowitz, Josh (2012-08-07). Sid Gillman: Father of the Passing Game. Clerisy Press. p. 246. ISBN 9781578605064.
  29. ^ "5 Reasons You Gotta Know ... Jamie Foxx". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  30. ^ "YOU SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND, BABY". Vault. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  31. ^ "Dwight McDonald Stats | Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-09-21.