A billionaire offered his former high school $25 million dollars but it wasn’t exactly a charitable donation.
Stephen A. Schwarzman, an Abington High School alumni and chairman and chief operating officer of the global private equity firm the Blackstone Group, vowed to give his alma mater the hefty amount of money in return for preposterous demands including the school be renamed after him. The local community was infuriated at the list of demands presented by the businessman.
The school board, desperate for a renovation and new science and technology center, initially agreed to the demands of the contract set forth by the billionaire in return for the money. Some of these outrageous demands included:
- The high school would be renamed “the Abington Schwarzman High School” and the new name and logo would be displayed at the main and at least “six” other entrances. The school’s new technology center would also be named after him.
- Several other sections of the school like the gym and the athletic center will be renamed after him, his brother, his high school coach and his friends from the high school track team.
- His portrait will be displayed throughout the school.
- The businessman would have right to choose and approve contractors for the school’s building project.
- He would receive semiannual reports from the computer initiative program.
- The school will not release the terms and conditions of the agreement until Schwarzman permitted it.
The agreement also demanded significant changes to the curriculum with coding or computing literacy deemed as compulsory. The school board argued the implementation was already planned even if Schwarzman had not mentioned it in his demands.
This wasn’t Schwarzman’s first donation, and neither is his proclivity to ask something in return. In 2005, the former student council president, who graduated from the school in 1965, donated $400,000 for the school’s football stadium to be named after him.
The community was not happy with the fact that Schwarzman essentially bought himself naming rights to the school. Amid pressure from the public the school board was forced to release the document, which was already rescinded by the time it was made public.
A new agreement has been placed with the billionaire alumni but this time many of his earlier demands have been excluded from it.
The new agreement will not see the school being named after Schwarzman, however the science and technology center will be. The gym and athletics center will similarly be named after his former coach and teammates. He will not have any right to approve contractors neither will he receive regular reports on the computer program by the school. His portrait will also not been seen hanging through the walls of the school.
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