The late Morton Bahr '83, '95 was recognized as one of the world's most influential union leaders and especially noted for groundbreaking leadership on worker education issues.

He was the labor movement's leading expert on technology and information-based industries. The scholarship created in his name assists union members and other workers by furthering their educational goals and enhancing educational access through distance learning.

Who can apply for the scholarship?

  • The Morton Bahr Distance Learning Scholarship is available to individuals pursuing a degree at Empire State College.
  • Union workers, family members and/or domestic partners may apply.
  • Undergraduate degree studies only.
  • Students must be accepted/enrolled at SUNY Empire State College to be considered.

What does the scholarship cover?

  • Scholarship awards will fully cover tuition and fees up to 8 credits.
  • Students in the program will be eligible for scholarship funding for one or two courses per term, for a maximum of 8 credits. Recipients will continue to receive scholarship funding until they receive their undergraduate degree, as long as they maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • Once enrolled as a Bahr Scholar, students also must apply every year for other federal, state, corporate or union financial aid for which they may be eligible (via submission of a FAFSA).

How do I apply?

Submit your application online at

Two essays will be required, in addition to the names of two individuals, familiar with your academic and/or professional goals, to submit a recommendation on your behalf. Contact with any questions.

Essay #1

The first essay is a personal application essay, which should discuss your personal, career and educational goals and accomplishments and explain how a Bahr Scholarship will help you to accomplish your goals.

Essay #2

For the second essay, use one of the following three quotes from the president of the Communications Workers of America, Morton Bahr, as a platform for launching your own ideas or the ideas of others on a similar theme in a short essay. In a one- to two-page essay, create your response to these ideas. We will use this essay as a sample of your writing and communication skills to predict your ability to be successful in college.

Bahr, Morton (1998). From the Telegraph to the Internet. Washington D.C.: National Press Books, Inc.

  1. I believe we can seize upon the opportunities created by historic change and help bring about a resurgence of the American labor movement. Communications Workers of America is uniquely situated to take a leadership role in moving the labor movement into the 21st century and in making the American dream available again for workers. But we must first clearly articulate the new role of trade unions in a rapidly changing world and determine how unions can best serve the needs of workers in a global economy (p. 20).

  2. American labor unions have traditionally been deeply involved in their communities. The 40-hour work week, overtime pay, employer-provided health care and a variety of government programs -- from Social Security to health and safety regulations, unemployment insurance and workers compensation — all were fought for and won by organized labor. And, they benefit working families, not just union members. We need to return to what made the labor movement great, advancing the cause of working America as a whole (p. 23).

  3. If America is going to succeed in the 21st century, we need to become a nation of lifelong learners. Today, for the first time in our history, a majority of all new jobs require a post-secondary education. Tomorrow’s workers will be expected to have a command of reading, computing and oral and written communication skills to qualify for many of the least-skilled jobs. And, all future good jobs will demand continued learning and education… Employees who are involved in learning have a better attitude toward their company. Because of their employers’ commitment to their education, workers realize that they do not have to be anti-company in order to be good union members. They begin to understand that management and labor have the same goal — a profitable company. We need to change our basic culture to make lifelong learning a priority for everyone. Instead of thinking of school as a gas station where you stop once, get filled up and then go on, we need to think of education as the road itself (pp. 197, 209).