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Syracuse University has petitioned to modify the purpose of endowment scholarship funds allocated for the School of Nursing, which has been closed for nearly 14 years, to support students in Falk College.
The petitions, which were filed in Onondaga County Supreme Court on Sept. 24, come after SU closed the School of Nursing in 2006 and more than 50 years after some of the scholarship funds were established.
SU established two funds — the School of Nursing Fund and the Special Fund — to provide scholarships for nursing students. SU is asking the New York State Attorney General to modify the purpose of the funds to provide scholarships for students in similarly-aligned majors in Falk College’s public health program.
“Endowment funds are designed to last in perpetuity, and Syracuse University, as steward of these funds, is required to take prudent actions to ensure that a donor’s wishes are honored,” said Jennifer Horvath, communication directors for SU’s Business, Finance and Administrative Services.
The current fair market value of the School of Nursing Fund, which was established in 1943, is approximately $494,668. The Special Fund, which received its first donation in 1966, has a current value of $940,099.
SU awarded approximately $419,598 worth of scholarships from the Special Fund, records show. The university awarded approximately $147,076 worth of scholarships from the School of Nursing Fund between 1982 and 2006 but doesn’t have records about the fund’s expenditures before 1982.
No expenditures have been made from either fund since the School of Nursing closed in 2006. It’s unclear why SU waited until 2020 to modify the purpose of these funds.
Scott Kemp, SU’s associate treasurer, said the university reviews its ability to spend all endowments and looks for candidates for modification “on a regular basis.”
The state passed new rules for modifying endowments in 2011, he said.
“Obviously, in these instances, we just have to be very careful that we honor a donor’s wishes in a closely-aligned purpose,” Kemp said.
Officials from SU’s Business, Finance and Administrative Services declined to comment further when asked why the university had not modified the funds earlier.
SU also petitioned to amend The Edith Roddy, Frank & Dora Horle Memorial Fund, which provided scholarships for juniors or seniors with a background in farming admitted to SUNY Upstate Medical University or in a nursing program at SU.
The university is asking to modify the fund to provide scholarships for students accepted to Upstate Medical University or enrolled in a public health degree program at SU, with a preference given to students who have an agricultural background.
The fund, which was established in 1962, is currently valued at $253,580. SU awarded approximately $106,910 in scholarships from the fund between 1982 and 2006.
Records for the fund before 1981 have been lost or destroyed, court documents show. SU has not awarded any money from the fund since 2006.
Of the 33,000 enrollment applications SU received in 2019, only 22 students disclosed that they came from agricultural families, and none of the applicants planned to study medicine or nursing, court documents show.
SU also petitioned to modify the Polly Adelphi Loope Fund, which was meant to provide up to $500 loans to students.
Records from SU show that the university has not made a single loan from the fund since its creation in 1959. The fund is currently valued at $3,652,981.
Statutes related to consumer and student loans, including the Truth In Lending Act, Regulation Z and the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 make loans of $500 or less to students impractical, SU said in its petition. Though SU said in the petition that the fund’s restrictions have prevented the university from fulfilling the donor’s intent, SU didn’t explain why it hadn’t sought to modify the fund in the 61 years since it was created.
SU is asking to modify the fund to provide scholarships for students with financial need in amounts determined by the university.
SU is also asking that the fund’s assets be pooled with and invested within the university’s managed endowment program. SU’s managed endowment consists of approximately 2,400 individual endowments and was valued at approximately $1.35 billion as of June 30.
Published on November 8, 2020 at 10:45 pm
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