Our Mission is to form Strategic Alliances with Post-Secondary Institutions in keeping with our Chairman's philosophy stated in his Four Gospels of Higher Education:
Dr. Michael K. Clifford is an Education Philanthropist/Entrepreneur. He views himself as a creative business/finance/ethics strategist that is a catalyst for creating high-quality education companies serving high demand, underserved, niche communities with robust campus as well as special online expertise.
Beginning as a volunteer business development consultant to learn the education business in 1996, Clifford was introduced to two leading education authorities. One was Dr. Roy Herberger then President of Thunderbird the International Graduate University of acclaim and Dr. John Sperling founder and current Chairman of Apollo Group (University of Phoenix). Clifford had the unique opportunity of working for free as a consultant for both organizations in order to learn the business. This allowed him to be the only "outside guy" in many high-level Board meetings and strategic management sessions to understand how education works from a regulatory standpoint, but most importantly the transition of the University of Phoenix from a ground based operation to the largest global online university in the world including the IPO process.
Clifford attempts to inject into all the schools in which he has influence his Four Gospels of Higher Education:
His philosophy of higher education is embodied in his Four Gospels of Higher Education:
1. Full & Equal Access – Giving every student who is willing to make the required effort the opportunity to acquire a quality college education.
2. Affordable – Lowering tuition and fees so the focus is on getting an education, not financing an education.
3. Timely & Relevant – Facilitating faster completion with lower debt and equipping graduates with relevant, real-world skills.
4. Purposeful & Ethical – Equipping graduates with a strong ethical moral compass and the motivation to give back to their communities.
Clifford spends his time supporting his CEO/Presidents, cultivating relationships with knowledgeable investors who share his values, seasoned management, helping entrepreneurs, and giving away funds. Clifford has built some tremendously valued relationships since 1997 in his travels entrepreneuring in education helping create academic institutions. Some of these highlights are as follows:
TeleUniversity formed by Michael K. Clifford with Louis A. Falcigno as an education boutique provider of online degrees has been transformed through various financing into what is now a blockbuster holding company called Bridgepoint Education Group. Bridgepoint filed its S1 for an IPO on December 22, 2008. While three of Clifford's recruited partners play a key role in Bridgepoint's success to date, Warburg Pincus stepped in to finance the company providing a superior management team led by CEO Andrew Clark. Bridgepoint Education was listed as the 22nd fastest growing companies in America by Forbes Small Business. Bridgepoint Education is becoming one of the major education corporations in America based on its incredible rapid growth under superior management.
In November of 1993, Clifford was contacted by a friend in Phoenix, Arizona, to help raise donations for Grand Canyon University which was about to close its doors. Clifford became the catalyst to organize the money, management and marketing while helping craft the core strategy for the success of Grand Canyon University. At the time of the acquisition in January of 2004, GCU had less than 700 students, approximately twenty-two outstanding lawsuits that it was going to lose, and forty million in debt, losing approximately $16MM per year on $7MM worth of revenue. Clifford leveraged his relationships with his recruitment of a superior CEO with his management team to recruit over 200 employees from the University of Phoenix which kick-started Grand Canyon University's online/campus operation. Clifford formed a ground-breaking Strategic Alliance with the university’s foundation, which has to date received approximately $50MM for what was a bankrupt school.
GCU was the first regionally accredited nonprofit university to convert to a for profit company in American history.
Today the company is enrolling thousands online students per month, has in excess of 50,000 students, is at capacity for the 100 acre, 500,000 square foot facility in the center of Phoenix, Arizona. The school has embarked on a $100MM building program for its campus, and its sports teams are winning.
GCU was the most successful IPO in 2008. Bridgepoint was the most successful IPO in 2009.
The returns on investment have been substantial. These companies have provided over 10,000 jobs in the worst economic times since the Great Depression.
Again, Clifford's gift as a catalyst is to see the A-to-Z strategy but recruit the experts for the B-to-Y execution. Once Grand Canyon University was stabilized after two years of Monday through Friday commuting from San Diego to Phoenix to serve/help the super successful CEO be successful, Clifford recruited another superior management/investor team lead by William Glasgow from another industry to help fulfill his vision for yet another niche online school. This group created American Way Education (AWE) to search for a school to purchase. Clifford was enamored with the management team's background in the cable industry whereby they purchased a cable system for $300MM and sold it for $4.2B 12 years later. Clifford viewed amazing parallels and similarities between the operations of a disparate group of cable operations and online education. The group reviewed 200 school acquisition opportunities, performed due diligence on 20, made offers on seven and acquired one small school that fit Clifford's vision and strategy. The strategy included a nationally accredited school with an emphasis on health care. This was a departure from the two previous regionally accredited schools Clifford helped create.
In mid 2008, after three years of persevering, Clifford won the bid for a university in a bankruptcy court at the request of the accreditor, HLC and community leaders. Myers University in Cleveland, Ohio, has a 160-year history rich with business titans as graduates including John D. Rockefeller, Harvey Firestone, Ernst from Ernst & Young, Briggs & Stratton, and Senator Metzenbaum. Clifford organized a group of education-savvy investors to acquire this HLC regionally accredited ground and online university offering AA's, BA's, and MBA's. New academic quality controls have begun combined with the enrollment growth strategies. Michael helped to quickly transform the university in Chancellor University www.chancelloru.edu recruiting world famous CEO Jack Welch to create the only Jack Welch Management Institute on the planet.
In 2009, Clifford has acquired two regionally accredited universities in high demand niches: Hispanic Serving Nursing and Teacher Education InterAmerican College now rebranded United States University www.usuniversity.edu in San Diego, California; and 70-year-old Christian school Crichton College now rebranded Victory University www.victory.edu in Memphis, Tennessee. Both schools are currently controlled by Clifford Capital, but managed by world class higher education leaders as President/CEO’s.
Michael lives in San Diego enjoying his wife and four children, sailing, fishing, beach walking, biblical studies, family adventures, trumpet playing, helping entrepreneurs, and storytelling. He works out every day but dislikes the drill. He serves on the Founding Board of the Dream Center, a conservative Judeo-Christian charity with a social justice mission. He has lead charity fund raising teams resulting in excess of $400MM. A political junkie always currently involved, he was featured on the front page in 1986 of the Wall Street Journal as the highest paid political consultant in America. He plays the trumpet: www.marcinkiewicz.com. He produced the award winning documentary D.O.P.E. funded by a charity he founded: Boat Angel. Michael and his wife Lindsey founded their own charity, www.ministry.com. Michael never attended college, owns several as a passionate believer in education, has several Honorary Doctorates, doesn't like ties and can't sit still. His life goals are to introduce people to Heaven and be a philanthropist.
- Full & Equal Access - Giving every student who is willing to make the required effort the opportunity to acquire a quality college education.
- Affordable - Lowering tuition and fees so the focus is on getting an education, not financing an education.
- Timely & Relevant - Facilitating faster completion with lower debt and equipping graduates with relevant, real-world skills.
- Purposeful & Ethical - Equipping graduates with a strong ethical moral compass with a willingness to help others. We are in business to help people live better lives via education globally.
We partner with Regulators, The Academy, The Global 1000, School Districts, Regional and Nationally Accredited Institutions, Investors, and Military to achieve these Four Gospels.