Mission-based programs lose special scholarships


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Three of the signature programs at John Carroll have been stripped of their $5,000 scholarship incentive for new students.

Aiden Keenan, Photo Editor

Incoming students within the Mission-Based scholarship programs of Honors, Leadership and Arrupe will no longer receive the annual $5,000 scholarship toward tuition. The University has not made an official announcement, but faculty within these programs have informed students and other essential personnel, including during a public Student Government meeting on Oct. 5. Dan Kilbride, director of the Honors program, Sydnia De Franco from the Arrupe program and Stephanie Levenson, the vice president for enrollment management attended. The two directors and VP spoke about their views on the rationale behind this decision, the implications of it and how students should proceed.

The reduction of the scholarships come at an interesting time for the University and the programs especially in consideration of the University’s Mission of equity and inclusion. Sydnia De Franco vocally opposes the removal of these scholarships arguing that the removal of the funding will possibly lead to a reduction in enrollment especially among underrepresented groups. 

“As a program we historically have attracted 18-20% BIPOC and first generation students, increasing diversity in many facets here on campus,” De Franco explained.

“I think the biggest loss will be in that population now that we do not have the scholarship money. It is hard to predict what will happen and who we will enroll, but as a woman of color myself, I think the commitment to creating a more inclusive institution is all of our responsibility. Losing the scholarship will have a profound effect on the very populations we sorely need here at JCU.”

Kilbride is also not enthusiastic about the removal of the programs. “As director of the Honors Program, I have complicated feelings about the elimination of our scholarships,” Kilbride told The Carroll News.

“On the one hand, I agree that $5000/year was an excessive award. Not one of our peer institutions comes close to providing that amount of support…awarding $20,000 scholarships across the three mission-based programs put substantial pressure on the university’s budget…” he began. “On the other hand, I think there may be several bad, predictable results to eliminating these scholarships. I am afraid it might reduce the number of incoming freshmen into these programs, bring down our average SAT/ACT scores and high school GPAs and reduce the diversity of the class of 2025.”

Vice President Levenson explains the University’s rationale for reducing these programs. Recognizing that this is a trial period for the scholarship reduction, she disagreed with the sentiments of Kilbride and De Franco, claiming that the funding will be redistributed in a way that leads to more equity and possibility. She agrees with the premises postulated by Kilbride and De Franco; diversity and equity are essential to the University’s mission. However, she disagrees that the decoupling of these scholarship programs will lead to reduction in that equity.

“For students entering Fall 2022, we are expanding our overall outreach with scholarship competitions to impact a larger number of students, providing an affordable education to a larger number of our applicants with the purpose of experience that prepares our graduates for the future of work,” Levenson elaborated.

In response to the change, Student Government unanimously passed two recommendations to Administration. The first encourages them to reconsider the revocation of these annual scholarships for students. It reads, “…the discontinuation of scholarships hinders the level of diverse thought and representation, as participation within these programs will be limited solely to students that can afford to attend John Carroll without this scholarship and participate in the Mission Based Programs in the absence of these historic scholarship opportunities…”

The second recommendation encourages them to find other ways to benefit students within the programs if the University does not recouple the scholarships to the programs. It concludes, “…the John Carroll Student Government expresses the urgent need for program benefit reconsiderations and the necessity of representation of current students and program directors in these benefit considerations.”

Though some people are opposed to the restructuring of these programs, the University insists that the change will not lead to the negative outcomes that some are suggesting. Current undergraduate students in the programs will still receive their scholarship throughout their JCU tenure.