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Wharton graduate Saul B. Rosenthal sued Penn's trustees for allegedly distributing portions of his donation, originally for business student financial aid, to student athletes. 

Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Penn donor and alumnus Saul B. Rosenthal filed a lawsuit against the University’s Board of Trustees in December 2023, alleging that the University misused his donation intended to finance scholarships for underprivileged business students. 

Rosenthal’s lawsuit for breach of contract alleges that the University violated the written terms of the scholarship agreements, which were specifically designated for financially underprivileged Wharton students concentrating in Entrepreneurship and Innovation or Finance. Rosenthal asked for reimbursement of his donations and payment of his legal fees, and for the University to terminate any association with his name.

Over a period of several years, Rosenthal donated $168,000 in both cash and marketable securities, according to the lawsuit — and the total amount in the scholarship fund rose in value to over $250,000 in June 2022. 

Rosenthal claims in the lawsuit that the University awarded funds from the scholarship to “a track and field athlete who was not specializing in Entrepreneurship or Innovation and had no concentration in Finance.”

A second example in the lawsuit cites a soccer player who “admitted that the scholarship she received functioned as a substitute for an athletic scholarship” — even though Ivy League Universities publicly do not offer athletic scholarships. 

The filing further details that the University misled Mr. Rosenthal that this soccer player was “pursuing a ‘Minor’ in ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation,’” even though no minor by this name exists, only a concentration within Wharton.

The lawsuit alleged that Wharton students concentrating in Entrepreneurship and Innovation or Finance who could have benefited from Rosenthal’s scholarship fund had the donations not been given to athletes.

A University spokesperson told The Daily Pennsylvanian that they typically do not offer comment on pending litigation. 

This lawsuit is unrelated to the ongoing controversy surrounding free speech on campus, prominent University donors withholding donations, the University’s response to the Israel-Hamas War, and former Penn President Liz Magill’s resignation.