A lawyer for the Public Interest Law Center said yesterday that the University is legally bound to provide 500 scholarships for Philadelphia high school students, instead of the 125 it currently provides, and plans to file suit to bring the University in line. A series of city ordinances and agreements starting in 1882 require the University to give out the total monetary equivalent of 125 full scholarships each year in exchange for land, General Counsel Shelley Green said earlier this week. But the University and the Law Center disagree over whether the University should provide 125 scholarships total, or 125 new four-year scholarships each year. "The heart of it is 125 four-year, full-tuition scholarship to be awarded annually by the mayor," Law Center attorney Tom Gilhool said yesterday. "In any given generation there should be 500." In the last academic year, there were 162 Mayor's Scholars enrolled at the University, and according to Green, the scholarships were valued at over $1.5 million. It is unclear if the city is backing the Law Center's move to increase the number of scholarships to 500. President Sheldon Hackney said at Wednesday's University Council meeting that he met with Mayor Wilson Goode this summer about the scholarships, and both the city and the University agreed the University is complying with the city ordinance. But Gilhool would not comment specifically about the city's role, saying only that "sometimes the city will join us in the suit, sometimes they won't." Mayor's office spokesperson Karen Warrington said Goode approved of the scholarships, but declined to say if the University is complying with the ordinances that established the scholarships. "[Goode] is very pleased with these scholarships," Warrington said. "They make a critical dfference in the lives of the many children who may not be able to pursue higher education without them." This was increased in June 1910 when a city ordinance required the University to establish and maintain 75 additional scholarships in any department of the University. The scholarships were designated for deserving students who attended any high school in the city. In exchange, the University acquired additional land. On August 1, 1977 the University entered into a new agreement that consolidated the two plans so the city could remove deed restrictions that prevented the University from mortgaging the land. The University agreed "to establish and forever maintain at least 125 four-year scholarships, or their equivalent, in any of the departments of the University, to be awarded annually by the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia to deserving students from all of the schools of the city." Some guidance counselors from high schools across the city said the scholarships were helpful to several students at each of their schools and the students were thankful to the city and University for making them available. No counselors who were contacted were aware of the impending suit. "It is helpful and the students are grateful," Central High School counselor Joan Coltune said yesterday. "I think the students who are accepted to the University would attend whether or not they received the scholarships . . . If there was no scholarship there may be a higher grant." Hackney announced at Wednesday's University Council meeting that PILC may be filing the suit, which claims that the University is not holding up its end of a long-standing agreement and demanding that the University offer more Mayor's Scholarships.Comments powered by Disqus
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