By day, Bob Turk is a janitor for Physical Plant. But when he finishes his shift, he does not head for home like most of his fellow workers. He gets his books and goes to class. Turk is one of many University employees participating in the Faculty/Staff Scholarship program. The program, part of a University benefits package, offers full-time University staff and their families the opportunity to attend classes for free or at reduced rates. There is also a program which assists employees in paying tuition for their children at other universities. Adrienne Riley, director of Human Resources, said that the program "reflects the University's commitment to education." "Education is what we're all about," Riley said. "It's like in industry. A company supports its own products by giving employees discounts and things like that. Well, our product is education." Employees who use the program were enthusiastic about it. Many participants said the program even attracted them to the University. "It's one of the main reasons I work full-time at the University," said Laura Hammons, an administrative assistant for Student Performing Arts. "I applied to the graduate school and was accepted and realized that I couldn't finance it myself, so I started working." Hammons is currently working on her masters degree in English as a Second Language. "I don't think I would be here without the program," said philosophy major Chris Clift, a secretary in the Engineering School. "I had heard about it and I decided it was the best way to pay for college." The program is one of the most extensive tuition benefits programs in the Ivy League, according to Riley. She said that the program is especially strong in funding for graduate studies. The program is unusual among universities, Riley said, because the benefits extend to all full-time workers, instead of just faculty members. She said that many universities began expanding their benefits programs to include all full-time workers because tax laws encourage equal benefits for all workers. However, she said, the University's program was this way before tax laws favored such a system. Christopher Brady, an administrative assistant in the Faculty/Staff Scholarship Program, said that the program's strength is in how comprehensive it is. "We are the only one this extensive, the only one that's non- discriminatory," said Brady. "The others only allow senior employees. Ours goes from lowliest employee to the highest person." Staff who use the program said that because many participants have been out of school for many years, they have difficulty adjusting to the atmosphere of the classes. "Some people feel intimidated," Turk said. "I did at first. I was nervous more than anything." However, some said that the program helps to show the applications of their work to the real world. Jack Heuer, manager of labor relations for the University, said that he thinks the program helps employees to relate their work to the real world. "I can see how my studies really work, how they affect the world," Heuer said. "I can apply my work better." The scholarship also applies to dependent children of University employees who have worked here for more than three years. Relatives of employees said that they appreciate the opportunity the program presents. "I think the program shows how much the University values it's employees," said Coleen Hammell, a College sophomore. "My mother has been a nurse at HUP for 25 years, and it's nice that her dependents get something." Several students said that the program heavily influenced their decision to come to the University, some saying that they would not have been able to attend the University without the assistance. "I would not been able to come here without it so it definitely helped," said Hammell. "I wanted to come here a lot and it's nice that I was able to."Comments powered by Disqus
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