John Sperling

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John Sperling (born 1921) is an American billionaire who is credited with leading the contemporary for-profit education movement in the United States. His fortune is based on his founding of the for-profit University of Phoenix for working adults in 1976.

Ballot initiative activism

Together with liberal billionaires George Soros and Peter Lewis, Sperling has been a very active donor to ballot initiative campaigns to decriminalize marijuana. Sperling has donated to over 17 ballot initiative campaigns in 11 different states to end marijuana prohibition.[1]

A profile in the Phoenix New Times in 2000 said, "Business tycoons George Soros, John Sperling and Peter Lewis use the initiative process as their own private laboratory, funding campaigns around the country -- including Arizona's two medical marijuana initiatives -- to the tune of millions."[2]

Donations in 2008

In 2008, Sperling has:

Pre-2008

Ballot measure campaigns to which Sperling has given in previous years include:

Background

John Sperling was born into a poor sharecropper family and spent several years as a sailor in the merchant marine, and even as a wandering 1950s beatnik. He received his undergraduate education at Reed College, Oregon, a master's from the University of California, Berkeley under the G.I. Bill, and then went on to attain a PhD in Economic History at Cambridge University. Before becoming an entrepreneur (at age 53), he taught as a tenured professor at San Jose State University. He was an activist with several liberal causes in the 1960s, building a powerful new California faculty union, and was part of several conflicts with authorities and university leaders of his experimental adult education schemes.

He is also the co-founder of Genetic Savings & Clone of Sausalito, California. He spent seven years and more than $19 million trying in vain to clone a dog named Missy in a project called Missyplicity. A subproject of Missyplicity was called Operation CopyCat, which successfully created the first cat clone, named CC.

More recently Sperling has directed his attention toward extending the life span of human beings -- research into life extension technology or "biological immortality."Wired magazine reported in their February 2004 article John Sperling Wants You to Live Forever that his fortune is quickly approaching US$3 billion, and has plans to donate it to human biology research when he dies. If he does so, this would be the biggest private program ever devoted to human biology.

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