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Credit: Cindy Chen

Stephen Schwarzman, who is scheduled to speak at Penn on April 5, is the subject of a recent controversy over the renaming of a public school in Abington, PA.

After receiving a donation of $25 million from Schwarzman, who is a graduate of the school, the Abington school board initially planned to change the name of Abington Senior High School to Abington Schwarzman High School. 

However, after strong opposition from the community, Abington School District Superintendent Amy Sichel announced on March 31 that the school would keep its original name.

The online petition opposing the name change and calling for increased transparency from the school board has received more than 1,400 signatures. 

“While taxpayers appreciate the gift, and what that will bring to our school in addition to the already-approved school tax increase, we believe changing the school name to reflect this ‘gift’ is unnecessary and extreme,“ the petition says.

Meanwhile, other objections to the name change stem from worries about Schwarzman’s influence over the school’s curriculum and his controversial political statements, such as when he compared former President Obama’s tax policies to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland. 

Schwarzman, the founder and CEO of the investment firm The Blackstone Group, is visiting Wharton on April 5 to discuss academic opportunities in China through the Schwarzman Scholars Program, an international scholarship program he founded to “prepare future leaders for success in a world where China plays a key global role.” 

The decision to keep the original school name will have no impact on Schwarzman’s donation as his representatives have agreed to it.

Sichel expressed gratitude for Schwarzman’s donation, which will most likely be used to build a new science and technology wing and to renovate the school’s existing 1950s-era structures.

“The purpose of this generous gift – the largest ever to a U.S. public high school in history – is to help Abington High School be the best it can be and to undertake a critical renovation that will dramatically improve the student experience as well as student preparedness,” Sichel said.