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New Drexel Scholarship Program Features Mentorship Summer Immersion Initiatives

December 13, 2007

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 13, 2007) — Some prospective college students produce remarkable grade-point averages but have less access to well-trained teachers, in-depth textbooks and other educational resources, leaving them ill-prepared in key subjects such as English and mathematics. Many of those students attend urban high schools and come from families who can contribute little if any money to their children’s education.

A new $2 million pledge to create scholarships at Drexel University will give such students from Greater Philadelphia financial, academic and other resources to help them attend and succeed in college, Drexel President Constantine Papadakis said.

The Schleyer Scholars Program was established through the donation of alumnus William T. Schleyer ’73 and his wife, Mary J. Zygala, of Rye Beach, N.H. Schleyer’s career in the communications industry includes leadership roles as president of Continental Cablevision, CEO of AT&T Broadband and chairman and CEO of Adelphia Communications. Schleyer and Zygala are now focusing on philanthropic leadership.

The Schleyer Scholars Program will help students sharpen skills necessary for success in college through a three-course, six-week summer “immersion” experience, Papadakis said. The courses will focus on English, mathematics and critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Drexel faculty and professors from colleges such as Caltech, University of California at Berkeley and Swarthmore will teach the courses,

Students can also benefit from a mentorship program in which they will receive guidance from upperclassmen who are fellow Schleyer Scholars or come from a similar background or major, Papadakis said. Those who participate in the mentorship program will also mentor younger Schleyer Scholars or high school students through volunteer opportunities offered by Drexel’s Center for Civic Engagement.

Studies show that students who live on campus are more likely to graduate than students who commute. Each academic year’s Schleyer Scholars can choose to live on the same floor in a residence hall.

“We believe a program with this multifaceted approach is unique in higher education and will substantially improve the quality of experience and the ultimate success of the Schleyer Scholars,” Schleyer said.

Candidates for the Schleyer Scholars Program will be evaluated by interviews that will qualify their high school performance, potential for success in college and personal attributes such as resourcefulness, persistence, work ethic and communication skills, Papadakis said.

One male and one female Schleyer Scholar will be chosen each year. Priority will be given to awarding one scholarship to a student pursuing a degree in engineering. Schleyer majored in mechanical engineering.

The Schleyer Scholars Program will financially support students throughout their years at Drexel, Papadakis said. It will cover about 25 percent of students’ annual costs, including tuition, fees, room and board, textbooks, computers and related expenses. Drexel’s Urban Scholars Program and cooperative education program and financial aid will cover students’ remaining expenses. Cooperative education is Drexel’s experiential learning program, in which undergraduates alternate periods of study with full-time professional employment related to their academic and career interests.


News media contact: Brian Rossiter, Drexel News Bureau 215-895-2705, 267-228-5599 (cell) or

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