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University Initiates Scholarships for Eastern Europeans

August 26, 1990

CHICAGO (AP) _ A small liberal arts college is giving two Eastern Europeans a taste of U.S. capitalism and competition under its Scholars for Freedom program.

″We hope to show them the ways of a market economy and instruct them in the ways of a democratic and open system,″ said Gilbert Ghez, a Roosevelt University business professor who runs the program.

Peter Leidl, 21, of Czechoslovakia will take undergraduate business courses at the university, and Laszlo Pribusz, 24, of Hungary will study graduate computer science, Ghez said.

Many U.S. universities say they can’t offer specific financial aid to Eastern Europeans, who are taking advantage of freedoms recently won in their own countries by seeking to study in the United States.

But Roosevelt - working with Scandinavian Airlines, multinational corporations and private groups - is offering two students $20,000 in full tuition, room and board for the 1990-91 school year as well as round-trip air fare.

Competition for the scholarships was keen. About 500 people applied before the list was weeded down to 50 students, who were interviewed by professors at Roosevelt, a school with about 6,000 students.

The two students chosen are scheduled to arrive at O’Hare International Airport on Tuesday.

They will study problems faced by Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania alike: turning from planned to market economies and dealing with rampant shortages and inflation.

The Scholars for Freedom program hopes to train students in capitalism and return them home to use those skills, Mark Holtzblatt, a Roosevelt professor of science and international business.

While the university so far has been able to offer students just one free year of study, Ghez said even that experience should prove valuable to Eastern governments.

″I’m not saying they’ll be CEOs right away, but they will be able to take the skills they’ve learned here in America and use them over there,″ he said.

The university hopes to offer scholarships to as many as 20 people for the program’s second year, he added.

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