$10 Million Gift from Media Magnate Will Endow HLS Public Service Fellowship

Media magnate and Harvard Law School graduate Sumner M. Redstone ’44 will give the school $10 million to endow a series of fellowships for graduating students who wish to pursue careers in public service, the school announced on Thursday.

Redstone donated $1 million to the College and Law School in 2010 to support public service among students, $500,000 of which was used to establish fellowships for ten graduating students to work in public service. Redstone’s latest donation—the largest ever given in the name of public service to HLS—will fully endow the fellowship in his name.

Yearly, ten graduates will receive funding as Redstone Fellows to work in the “public interest,” where paid internships or full-time positions are difficult to secure, according to Steven Oliveira, associate dean of development and alumni relations at the Law School.

Since the 2008 recession, it has become increasingly financially difficult for nonprofit organizations and government agencies to recruit students and offer competitive salaries to law school graduates, Oliveira said in an interview.

In the press release, Redstone emphasized his wish that graduates enter the public sector.

“The need for public service today is greater than ever, demanding innovation and progress to make a fundamental impact…and it is my hope that Redstone Fellows will continue to put their intellectual tools to the best possible use in building a better world,” Redstone said.

Law School Dean Martha L. Minow praised Redstone’s gift in the press release, saying that it would allow the school to “enormously strengthen” its ability to promote public service.

“[T]hanks to Sumner’s transformational new gift, we can look forward to even greater accomplishments from future generations of Redstone Fellows, and to the difference they will make in providing access to justice for people who could not otherwise afford it,” Minow said.

The donation was given through the Sumner M. Redstone Charitable Foundation, which has donated over $170 million to philanthropic causes, including the Boston University School of Law, Boston Latin School, and the Global Poverty Project.

After earning his law degree at Harvard, Redstone himself worked as a lawyer in the public sector. He served as a law secretary with the U.S. Court of Appeals and later as a special assistant to then-Attorney General Tom C. Clark. He eventually went on to take over his father’s movie theater chain, National Amusements, and create a career in the media and communications industry.

Today, Redstone and his family own majority stakes in Viacom and CBS Corporation. Redstone serves as executive chairman of both companies’ boards. According to the press release, he has been a frequent lecturer at the Law School since earning his degree in 1947.

—Staff writer Tyler S. Olkowski can be reached at tolkowski@college.harvard.edu.

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