AP News

University of Phoenix founder retires as chairman

PHOENIX (AP) — Apollo Group Inc., the for-profit education company behind the University of Phoenix, said Thursday its founder John Sperling will retire as chairman of the board at the end of the year.

Sperling, who founded the company in 1972, was given the title chairman emeritus by the board. Sperling will be succeeded by his son, Peter Sperling. He previously served as vice chairman of the board and has held several positions in the company since 1983. Terri Bishop, executive vice president, was elected vice chair.

The announcement comes as enrollments overall in the for-profit sector is dropping after years of rapid growth, even as enrollment in other sectors of higher education rises. Recent federal figures showed enrollment in for-profits fell 2.9 percent in 2011. The sector has faced tighter regulations and more pressure to enroll students who have a better chance of graduating.

The University of Phoenix announced in October that it would close 115 smaller locations, affecting 13,000 students. Following the closures it will be left with 112 locations in 36 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Shares of Apollo Group Inc. rose 39 cents to close at $21.40.

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