University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg offered to help the daughter of late Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke pay for college, while the 19-year-old settles a dispute over her father’s estate.
Gerald Kauvar, special assistant to the president, said the University offered Cooke financial aid in the form of loans if she qualified for admission to GW. He said she is in a temporary crunch that will most likely clear up in a few years, when she would be expected to repay the funds.
Cooke’s lawyer, J. Benjamin Dick, said yearly trust payments of $50,000 are not enough to finance both her education and personal spending, according to a Washington Post article. Cooke, who was attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, is suing her father’s estate for more money after coming up short on her payments to the university for the fall semester.
In an interview with The Hatchet, Dick said he had not called Kauvar back yet but would when his client made a final decision. He said she will probably not take Trachtenberg’s offer.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate at this time,” Dick said.
Trachtenberg said he contacted Cooke out of compassion for her situation and GW’s commitment to current and former residents from the D.C. area. He said he first heard of Cooke’s situation in the Post’s article and then reached out with an offer of assistance.
“She’s a local kid. She seems to be in trouble … What a sad situation if she could not afford an education,” Trachtenberg said.
Given that Jack Kent Cooke set up a scholarship foundation for needy students, Trachtenberg said it was particularly important that Cooke’s daughter attend college. Jack Kent Cook passed away nearly a decade ago.
Trachtenberg said it is not unusual that students in dire situations who come to him with problems receive assistance in completing their education at GW. Such aid is usually enough for the student to get by, he said, but it’s not overly generous.
“Obviously we haven’t got Fort Knox in the back room,” he quipped.
He added that he did not believe Cooke would take him up on the offer.
Kauvar said despite the attention of the national media, Trachtenberg did not offer the financial aid anticipating this reaction.
“I don’t think he did it for publicity,” Kauvar said. “I think he did it because, you know, there’s a student in need. She’s not the first and she won’t be the last.”
Kauvar said Trachtenberg has sometimes offered his own discretionary funding to help a student and it is always understood that when the student becomes successful he or she will return the favor through alumni giving.
Kauvar added, “Some people pay back a lot more than they borrow.” n
This article appeared in the February 8, 2007 issue of the Hatchet.