James Patterson, a well-known, best-selling author of mysteries, has decided to underwrite eight $6,000 scholarships a year to Towson University students who are planning to become teachers.

The scholarship recipients will be chosen this month. Students who apply will be chosen based on their grade point average, financial need and interest in teaching reading. The scholarships will be retroactive to the beginning of this school year. Patterson, who has written some 67 books, has been donating money to encourage young readers for the past decade.

At least a dozen other universities have also received the scholarships, including Manhattan College and Vanderbilt, where he got his degrees.

Towson was chosen, according to Towson University spokeswoman Christine Collins, because of its teacher preparation programs and its focus on urban education.

"He liked the fact that the university produces a lot of educators and has a commitment to teaching reading with the Towson Reading Clinic," she said.

The clinic, located on the Towson campus, offers affordable tutoring to children who are behind their peers in reading, have dyslexia or need some other kind of individual instruction to help them catch up. Children receive an hour of tutoring for $15 a session at the clinic.

Patterson also has a readkiddoread.com website to encourage young readers and he has a book donation to schools.

Besides being the author of numerous award-winning books, Patterson's interest in the teaching of reading comes in part from his mother, who was a teacher.

“Only our most qualified students will be invited to apply,” says Raymond Lorion, dean of the College of Education, in a statement. “We will work with them continuously throughout their four years of study so that each one will bring distinction to Mr. Patterson through the academic success of the generations of students they will serve.”