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September 21, 2023

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Scholarship shift causes concern

The Alumni Laureate Scholars (ALS) program, a prestigious scholarship for incoming freshmen, has some changes coming its way next year.

Funded by alumni, the scholarship is life-changing for freshmen who qualify. The ALS program grants the selected students with a free ride to the University—that’s four years completely paid.

The scholarship has been under the control of the alumni’s University Advancement for 14 years, but next year they’re partnering with the Honors College to make some changes to it.

“We made it clear that it’s not going away…it’s a partnership,” Rebecca Kocher, associate vice president for Alumni Relations, Annual Giving, and Development Operations, said. “A lot of people were involved.”

Since incoming students have to apply to the Honors College as part of the program’s requirements, partnering with the Honors College seemed to be a natural progression, Kocher said.

Some students currently in the ALS program expressed concerns initially, because they were uncertain how the changes would affect them.

“Our scholarship coordinator has left the University, and we now are having some of the Honors College faculty take over and run our meetings,” Cameron Friedman, a student currently in the ALS program, said. “It’s not too impactful as of yet, but for next year it’ll definitely be an adjustment.”

Honors College Dean Simon Morgan-Russell said the program wasn’t changing significantly.

“The terms and conditions of the scholarship aren’t changing. It can’t change without the donors’ permission,” Morgan-Russell said.

The changes, which will mostly be events and activities required by the Honors College, will impact the four or five incoming freshmen the most. Their experiences may be different, but the program will be just as impactful, he said.

They’re thinking about “what needs to be preserved and what needs to be combined” with other student groups, Morgan-Russell said.

Overall, the biggest change next year for ALS recipients will be that they’ll no longer have the same Alumni advisor, Kelly Lawrie, helping them through the process. Lawrie had been with the scholarship from the start, and she had significantly contributed to the program’s culture.

“(She) was a signature component of their experience,” Morgan-Russell said. Now that she’s no longer with the University, he said current students will feel the loss the most. New, incoming students, however, never knew Lawrie, so they will not be impacted as much.

“It’s a growing pain,” Kocher said. “I know we’ll get through it.”

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