John G. Sperling
Sperling left a tenured faculty position at San Jose State University after failing to convince the institution to offer for-profit education programs for adults. Sperling launched the for-profit University of Phoenix in 1976 amidst great controversy and ridicule. Despite many hurdles, Sperling built the University of Phoenix into a vibrant and successful institution. By the end of the century, the firm had reached almost $1 billion in revenues and was providing educational opportunities for over 200,000 students at 100 centers throughout the world.