Greg Cappelli of River Forest is the chief executive officer of Apollo Education Group, one of the world's leading higher education companies. Our work creates more opportunities for non-traditional students to obtain the education they need to advance in their careers. I invite oakpark.com readers and letter writers to consider our work at Apollo before engaging in a misinformed, ad hominem debate about the role of for-profit higher education in this country and the ways in which it is regulated by federal and state governmental bodies.
Our company proudly serves students in India, the U.K., Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Chile and here in the U.S. Apollo was founded in 1973 and is best known for its founder, Dr. John Sperling, who grew up illiterate and poor in rural Missouri during the Great Depression and ultimately earned a Ph.D. at Cambridge University, then created the University of Phoenix, whose institutional mission has been to help working adult students who are too often turned away by traditional higher education.
A few years ago, Dr. Sperling asked Mr. Cappelli to lead the company that operates the University of Phoenix and many other schools. The community of Oak Park would do well to learn more about the more than one million students and graduates at University of Phoenix, and to research the role of proprietary higher education institutions in the world's larger systems of colleges and universities.
A good place to start is www.apollo.edu/learnmore1. We also answer the needs of veterans, active-duty service members and military families, which you can also read about.
While there has been criticism of University of Phoenix in the past, it was Mr. Cappelli and our teams working tirelessly over the years that focused the organization on giving students new services and tools so that they graduate in greater numbers, borrow responsibly, and connect to employers looking for talent to add to their workforces. Mr. Cappelli's work has been recognized by the chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Senator Tom Harkin, who has noted that "a number of companies operating for-profit colleges, including the University of Phoenix … have put policies into place since 2010 that are specifically directed at improving outcomes."
President Obama's Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has recently also pointed out that, "The department believes many institutions have already started to take steps to improve. Some of the largest institutions have instituted trial periods for programs before students have to commit, so students can decide if that program is right for them. There are reports that institutions have decreased program lengths. Some are reducing costs. And a few institutions have closed some locations and programs they judge to be performing poorly."
It is disappointing to see a worthwhile debate about the role of proprietary colleges in higher education turn into an attack on our company, our schools, its leadership, and now the high school from which our chief executive officer graduated many years ago. We invite your readers to attend the next graduation ceremony for local University of Phoenix students, so you can see firsthand the commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm of our faculty and, most importantly, our students, most of whom are adult learners and working parents, often the first in their families to attend and graduate from college.
Mark Brenner is senior vice president for communications and external affairs with Apollo Education Group Inc., the parent company of the University of Phoenix.
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