Spartan College of Aeronautics acquired by Sterling Partners
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
1/09/13 at 6:16 AM
Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, a private 85-year-old Tulsa technical institution that has trained 90,000 aviation professionals around the world, has been sold to Sterling Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, company executives said Tuesday.
No purchase price was disclosed by the parties.
Sterling Partners Principal Jason Rosenberg and Spartan President and CEO Jeremy Gibson, who will remain in his present positions as administrator and investor, said Sterling will invest in Spartan's facilities in Tulsa and expand its campuses around the United States.
Rosenberg said Sterling was attracted to the Spartan investment because the college is a leader in the training of aircraft mechanics, pilots and non-destructive testing technicians.
"Spartan fits well into our educational portfolio," Rosenberg said. "We believe Spartan is a clear leader in the aviation and NDT (non-destructive testing) higher education space, with a decades-long reputation for high-quality education and a very strong job placement record....Spartan students get great jobs, and there will be a significant shortage of aviation technicians, pilots and non-destructive testing professionals in this country and abroad.
"Spartan stands uniquely qualified to help meet the needs of the industry by continuing to produce skilled graduates. We're most focused on providing a great experience for students leading to great outcomes for them."
Founded in 1983, Sterling Partners has more than $5 billion in assets under management and invests in education, health care and business services.
Among Sterling's assets are:
"We see great opportunities to put Spartan campuses in other states," Gibson said. "My vision is to have several campuses around the U.S. Sterling will help us develop Spartan's infrastructure more quickly and help us expand to new regions, while continuing to contribute to the increased global demand for aviation and non-destructive testing technicians."
- Laureate International Universities with its network of 60 accredited campus-based and online universities offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs to 740,000 students in 29 countries;
- Infilaw, which is a consortium of law schools accredited by the American Bar Association, including Florida Coastal School of Law, Phoenix School of Law and Charlotte School of Law, and
- School of Rock, the largest after-school provider in the music education industry that offers instrument and vocal programs to students 7 to 18 years old.
- Gibson said Sterling has the resources to invest in Spartan's equipment and training aids, infrastructure and facilities.
Today, Spartan has just under 1,000 students, one of its low-ebb marks of recent years. About 700 students are enrolled in aviation maintenance programs, 200 in the NDT curriculum and 100 in Spartan's flight school, officials said.
Spartan's long and colorful history began in 1928 when W.G. Skelly, president of Skelly Oil Co., established Spartan Aircraft Co. and formed the corporation that built Tulsa Municipal Airport, which later became Tulsa International Airport.
Skelly was convinced air transportation would go hand-in-hand with the oil business, would mature and demand skilled aircraft technicians and pilots.
Spartan Aircraft Co. built some of the finest general and business aircraft in the world in the 1930s. At the outbreak of World War II, Spartan School of Aeronautics, as it was then known, trained thousands of pilots and mechanics for U.S. forces and its allies.
In 1942, Skelly sold Spartan School of Aeronautics and the aircraft company to another wealthy oilman, J.Paul Getty, who guided the school until 1968.
After 1968, Spartan has been owned by a succession of educational institutions.
Original Print Headline: Equity firm purchases Spartan College
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451