(CNN) The founder of the University of Phoenix, Dr. John G. Sperling, 93, has died, according to a statement posted on the Apollo Education Group's website.
The statement said Sperling passed away on Friday at a hospital in the San Francisco Bay area.
"Dr. Sperling's vision, pioneering spirit and boundless resolve to improve the world through accessible higher education for working adult students provided a roadmap for families, nations and economies to evolve, advance, grow and prosper," wrote Apollo chairman and Sperling's son, Peter Sperling, and company Chief Executive Officer Greg Cappelli.
"Dr. Sperling's indomitable ideas and life's work served as a catalyst for innovations widely accepted as having made higher education more accessible to adult students," the statement added.
Sperling is widely known for helping transform higher education.
He first founded the Institute for Professional Development in 1972, followed by the University of Phoenix, a degree program aimed at working adults, in 1978. The university was one of he first to develop online degree programs.
Sperling was born on January 9, 1921, in rural northwest Missouri.
The biography page on the Apollo Group website, a company Sperling also founded, describes Sperling as an "activist, union organizer, educator-turned-entrepreneur, who created the University of Phoenix and ushered in for-profit higher education for working adult students."
The University of Phoenix is one of the largest private universities in the United States with more than a million students, alumni, faculty, and employees, according to the Apollo Group.