Murphy was a founder of the University of Phoenix and served as Senior Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Academic Vice President. He was a voting shareholder member of the board and executive committee member of its publicly-traded holding company, Apollo Group, Inc. Murphy also founded and directed a community mental health program while an adjunct professor at San Jose State University. In 2007, he wrote and produced the award-winning film Valley of the Hearts Delight, a dramatic retelling of the notorious San Jose Brooke Hart kidnapping and subsequent lynching of two men accused of that crime.
"The graduation rate when the University of Phoenix went public stood near 65 percent, about the same as traditional nonprofit private colleges and universities," says Murphy. "After adopting a taxpayer-supported community college open admissions policy, the graduation rate fell to approximately 33 percent. This never would have happened when the employers of its working adult students underwrote some or all of the cost of tuition."
Selected excerpts from the book Mission Foresaken:
The University of Phoenix went public through its holding company, Apollo Group, and spawned publicly traded, multibillion-dollar, controversial and lucrative for-profit sector of the education-industrial complex. This sector now dominates growth in postsecondary enrollment, percentage of federally guaranteed student loans for its number of students, and student-loan default rates.
Successful innovation is rooted in the commitment of its innovators to fight for it, regardless of the form of opposition or obstacles in its path. The University of Phoenix prevailed against stunningly impossible odds because its founders never turned away from any challenge and once maintained absolute fidelity to its founding principles.
I picked up the Arizona Republic on the way to breakfast. The thick Sunday paper sat on the counter while we ate; none of us had even glanced at it. Why would a conservative newspaper contain anything about a budding nontraditional university with eight working adult students that had been granted accreditation candidacy from the same entity that accredited all educational institutions in Arizona? I don't remember who caught the headline on a front page, but we were all floored: "Quick-degrees college in line for accreditation." In a lull of the endlessly intense work days and nights in the crazed weeks and months that followed, I ask John how it felt to be in the crosshairs of an educational assassination. Silence grew as we tried to imagine what that meant. It took no time to find out.
Nearly half of undergraduate degree-seeking students today are over twenty-five and work full or part-time. The traditional structure of higher education, due to punishing annual cost increase and impediments to working adult productivity must be changed to reflect the world in the twenty-first century rather than still operating like it was the late nineteenth century.
Traditional higher education remains structured and operated primarily for those who attend full time at a single campus. This compels working adults to earn degrees in a manner that can consume a decade during the most productive years of their lives. The negative impact on careers and on the economy is staggering.
It is well beyond the time for comprehensive structural changes in the way in which higher education is conceived and delivered. The University of Phoenix was established closer to the twenty-first century than the twentieth century and both its design and operation acknowledge and reflect the time in which it was founded. The majority of America's traditional higher education institutions remain configured and managed as if we were at the turn of the nineteenth century. In 1900, communication was measured in weeks, months, and even years, today in nanoseconds.
Traditional higher education manifests a congenital resistance to change. In the early twentieth century, private colleges and universities -- once the majority of institutions -- protested fiercely against the creation of tax-supported land-grant colleges and universities. Another pitched battle followed World War II when both private and public higher education institutions fought the GI Bill because they earnestly believed it debased student quality.
At the core of everything University of Phoenix is the refusal of many traditional academics to acknowledge that full-time working adults require an educational delivery system and teaching/learning model designed and operated in recognition of the specific learning needs and place in life. Recognition of differences in educational delivery systems and teaching/learning models for the traditional-aged student and the one for full-time working adult learners with real-world experience is the key to the transformation of undergraduate higher education in the twenty-first century.
The original University of Phoenix teaching/learning model permitted working adults to earn degrees while they continued to meet their full-time personal and professional responsibilities. The failure of traditional institutions to acknowledge the importance of the personal and professional responsibilities of the adult learner constitutes a barrier to access.
Given the wars, skirmishes, firefights, ambushes, dustups, attacks, dry-gulching, and bushwhacking the University of Phoenix endured at the hands of traditional higher education, five major factors ensured both survival and prosperity: high quality educational content; efficacy of the teaching/learning model; candor, accuracy and responsibility in all relationships; political hard will to fight for survival on our merits; and absolute accountability for student academic achievement.
Most Popular Stories
- Twitter Names Woman to Board
- NSA Tracks 5 Billion Cellphone Records a Day
- Nelson Mandela Dies After Momentous Life
- W.H. Corrects Itself on Unclegate
- Nelson Mandela Dead at 95
- Fast-Food Workers Want $15 an Hour
- Roybal-Allard Tours Gordon Brush Plant
- Pope Francis Says He'll Fight Child Sex Abuse
- Aspen Contracting Adding 300 Jobs
- Yemen Attack Kills 52