A few weeks ago, the Daly Fund trustees met and selected 22 Daly scholarship recipients. To assure fairness and likelihood of college success, the trustees used a process whereby students were selected based on a weighted formula that combined SAT scores and overall high school grade point averages. The trustees only saw the ranked composite scores; they did not know the names of the recipients until they determined how far down the list they could fund scholarships.
In making their selections, the trustees were guided by the instructions in Daly’s will, in which he wrote the Fund should be used, “… in educating worthy young men and women of Lake County, Oregon, in the schools, colleges, and technical schools of the state of Oregon, bearing all their expenses through school, if necessary, until their education is completed; such students to be recommended by the County Judge and County School Superintendent of Lake County, Oregon, their recommendation, however, not to be binding on my trustees.”
Other than being from Lake County, the primary criterion is that the students be worthy. Determining worthiness for college is not a simple matter and it was the basis of the legal challenge to Daly’s will brought by relatives who were likely to have been motivated by the size of the estate and their interest in a larger inheritance. Their lawyer argued that the will did not provide any instruction on how worthiness was to be determined and since the trustees included directors of the Bank of Lakeview there would be conflicts of interest.
Because the complainants (15 of Daly’s relatives) included citizens of other states and foreign countries, it was assigned to the Federal district court in Portland on December 23, 1920 where Judge Robert Bean presided. After deliberations, Judge Bean sided with the Fund trustees in ruling that the will was valid and proper, and the first recipients were selected by the county judge and county school superintendent in 1922.
In those early years of the scholarship, the selection of recipients was not so difficult as relatively few students completed high school and even fewer wanted to attend college. Furthermore, the costs of attending college were low (neither OAC nor UO charged tuition, only fees) and scholarship monies were plentiful. All of that would change in the 1930s as the effects of the Great Depression set in. It all came to a head in 1936 when the Lakeview High School graduating class was the largest ever; available scholarship funds (from interest earnings) were severely depleted; and colleges had begun charging tuition. At a time when more students wanted to go to college, there were less scholarship funds available.
The pressures led to controversy when, in 1936, the trustees did not follow the established policy of selecting students from a list of those that had passed the college entrance examination developed by the University of Oregon and Oregon Agricultural College. The two university presidents wrote to the trustees that, “… the inclusion of three students whose names were not on the list has been a source of mortification” It seems that those three students were the sons of large account holders at the Bank of Lakeview, whose directors were trustees of the Fund.
It didn’t take long to right the ship, the very next year the trustees committed to following the process of selecting from a list of those students who had passed the university examination. (1937 was also the year when the Bank of Lakeview was sold to the First National Bank of Oregon.)
Congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients and much appreciation to the trustees for their dedication to fairness and the pursuit of excellence.
Check out this blog entry to see what happened to Gene Peterson, who didn’t, but probably should have gotten the scholarship in 1936.