John Sperling, a Reed College graduate and founder of the University of Phoenix, died in California on Friday, the New York Times reported yesterday. Details of his death have not yet been released.
The 93-year-old entrepreneur crafted a billion-dollar empire out of a $26,000 investment in for-profit education, the New York Times reports. At its height in 2010, the University of Phoenix served over half a million students.
Sperling poured millions of his profits from educating adults into causes such a legalization of marijuana and an attempt to clone his Border-Collie and Husky mix, Missy.
"By his own admission Mr. Sperling was endlessly combative, while others saw him as quirky at times. For one thing, he liked to wear the same outfit every day, khaki pants and a blue dress shirt," the Times wrote. "In his memoir, 'Rebel With a Cause,' Mr. Sperling wrote that throughout his life he had shown 'a lack of concern for what peers and authority figures think of me.' His strengths, he said, were 'implacable opportunism, joy in conflict and a thrill from taking risks.'”