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Rebel with a Cause: The Entrepreneur Who Created the University of Phoenix and the For-Profit Revolution in Higher Education Hardcover – January 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 266 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; First Printing edition (2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471326046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471326045
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leeper on March 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is a bit puzzling. Looking at the title, you feel that the book is a biography of John Sperling. Reading the subtitle, you would think he is going to focus on the University of Phoenix and the growth of the Apollo Group. After reading the book cover to cover, I am not sure what the author wanted me to take away from this.
Some parts of his life get rather detailed (like his childhood sickness and early schooling) and could be interesting. His tone makes me think of someone on a pulpit trying to get me to acknowledge his past. I would not question the effects of his past if he didn't fly through other parts of it (all the quick affairs/relationships/friendships) which he mentions. His son is part of his company, so I was puzzled to see that there was little mention of him.
Given the sections that Sperling highlights for us, am I supposed to be awed by the rough start and many love affairs? Am I to be astounded by his success because of this?
I personally liked the history of the University of Phoenix. He does go into great detail on the political and legal wrangling with the accrediting board. He touches on the help from some people, but will then mention later that the person no longer had the "fire" and was let go from the company. It sounds like the university is his quest and he will not let marriage or friendship get in the way.
In the last sections of the book, Sperling talks about other projects he is passionate about. How did he decide to cover these? The Kronos Group took me by surprise. I saw no mention of this in the book until the very end. I have the feeling that the publishers were trying to make the book longer, so they just added some other thoughts in there. It does make for a very coherent picture of Sperling.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Tim Schmidt on November 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As I finish this book, I am asking myself, "What was the point?" There are basically three themes to the book:
1)A biography of John Sperling, the founder of University of Phoenix.
2)A documentary of the creation and growth of UOP.
3)An attempt to persuade the reader to support his "causes."
On the whole, each is a miserable failure and a real chore to endure. It is a chore not only from the obviously biased and overly detailed material, but also from the way it is written. It reads with the eloquence of a junior high term paper of "what I did on my summer vacation." Throughout the book he writes, "Unfortunately this..." followed by "fortunately that..." If you were given a five-cent discount for each time either one of these words were used, the book would be free.
The first theme of profiling John Sperling read more like a trashy novel than a biography of a leader. It details his sorted affairs, misdealings, and blatant disregard for anyone but himself. It shows a major diversion from the usual theme of business books where ethics is very important and that it is important to support your fellow human being. The portrait he paints of himself is one uncaring of other people personally or professionally. He demonstrates a pompous attitude in the extreme where he is simply "above" speaking to his family or marrying "his one true love." I simply do not get his point. Does he want us to hate him? Is he trying to say all leaders are scumbags like him?
The book's historical look of the creation and growth of the University of Phoenix was one of its few redeeming qualities. It details the life of the company and its long up-hill battle overcoming resistance from the existing university structure, accreditation boards, and politicians.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Eugene A Jewett on November 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
John Sperling's story of his upbringing, and of his evolution into the Ceo of the University of Phoenix, the largest university in America, for-profit or otherwise, is a fascinating tale of struggle and perseverence. The bright-line antagonist in this saga is found in the intransigence and utter meanness of the entrenched academic establishment in California. Kay Henderson, the reigning head of the California post-secondary system, seems sent from central casting in this seeming story of good versus evil, and Henderson is one evil guy. He keeps coming back, like Freddy in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" or Jason of Friday the 13th fame, to visit continuing indignities on Sperling's efforts to make a college education for the over-25 adult learner more affordable, accessible and accountable.
Sperling, who began his career at 53 years of age, is now a member of the Forbes 400-richest, and a true latecomer (and self-made man) to entreprenurial success,. Per usual, he exemplifies the adage that change only comes to an industry from the outside. And thus, he began on a shoe string and succeeded because academia, then and today, remains bloated with unnessessary costs while ignorant and unconcerned with the outcomes of its graduates.
While the Univ of Phoenix has grown mightily, students at traditional colleges are going broke on ever higher tuition rates and concommitantly increasing student loans while professors continue to jack up their annual salaries and benefits far beyond the annual CPI index increases. Of note is that such increases have closely paralleled the explosion in Title-IV government loan appropriations to the point where state governments and the U.S. Congress are jointly searching for new ways to control these out-of-control expenditures.
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