Sumner M. Redstone ’47 has donated $1 million to be used by Harvard College and Harvard Law School to establish scholarships for 30 students committed to public service.
The Redstone Fellowships at Harvard Law School will support 10 students who wish to pursue post-graduate public service. The Sumner M. Redstone Undergraduate Scholarship Fund will provide financial assistance to 20 men and women at Harvard College from a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds who demonstrate a commitment to public service reflecting the civic ideals of President John F. Kennedy.
Martha Minow, Dean of the Faculty and Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, said: “In the 50 years since John F. Kennedy inspired a generation with his call to service, Sumner Redstone has steadfastly answered that call throughout the course of his extraordinary career and as a visionary leader in our society. Now, with these fellowships, he shares his inspiration by supporting the newest generation of lawyers who wish to make a difference in the lives of their fellow human beings. I am enormously grateful for his vision and leadership. The recipients of his generosity will magnify his contribution many times over, by helping untold numbers of people. As President Kennedy’s brother Robert said, each time a person acts to improve the lot of others, ‘he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples to build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.’”
Michael D. Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said: “I am deeply grateful to Mr. Redstone for this generous gift. It will help ensure that Harvard College is accessible to students who hold service to the public good as a fundamental value. These immediate-use scholarships support the College’s strong commitment to creating a diverse and outstanding undergraduate class each year.”
Mr. Redstone said, “As a graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School, I have experienced firsthand the culture of excellence and public service that is a fundamental tradition of these great schools. Harvard’s longstanding commitment to leadership through enlightenment and engagement provides an outstanding foundation for the next generation of leaders for the U.S. and around the world.
“As the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s presidency nears, we reflect on how his influence sparked an era of optimism, activism and national service. I have established these scholarships to help celebrate President Kennedy’s spirit by fostering a focus on education and a renewed commitment to public service. I am honored to have the opportunity to recognize and encourage these admirable young men and women.”
The recipients of the scholarships announced today will be chosen based on criteria that include a commitment to public service that reflects President Kennedy’s civic ideals.
Redstone’s gift comes on the heels of several new public service related programs at Harvard Law School. In February, Minow announced the launch of a new Public Service Venture Fund which sets aside $1 million in grants every year to help students pursue careers in public service. Minow announced an increase in the availability of financial aid overall and a broadening of eligibility for the school’s loan relief program in November 2009, and she also established 12 new Holmes Fellowships for students interested in post-graduate public service work.
Redstone has recently awarded more than $100 million in charitable grants to fund initiatives in the U.S. and abroad. His contributions have funded research and patient care advancements in cancer, burn recovery and mental health at several major non-profit healthcare organizations, and have provided support for groups that care for impoverished children in Southeast Asia.
Redstone has served as the executive chairman of the Board of Directors of Viacom Inc. since January 1, 2006. He also serves as Executive Chairman of the Board of CBS Corporation. He was Chief Executive Officer of the former Viacom Inc. from 1996 to 2005 and Chairman of the Board of the former Viacom Inc. since 1986. He has also been Chairman of the Board of National Amusements, Inc., Viacom’s controlling stockholder, since 1986, its Chief Executive Officer since 1967 and also served as its President from 1967 through 1999. Redstone served as the first Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Theatre Owners and is currently a member of its Executive Committee.
Redstone has been a frequent lecturer at universities, including Harvard Law School, Boston University Law School and Brandeis University. Upon graduation from HLS in 1947, he served as law secretary with the U.S. Court of Appeals and then as a special assistant to the U.S. Attorney General. Redstone served in the Military Intelligence Division during World War II. While a student at Harvard, he was selected to join a special intelligence group whose mission was to break Japan’s high-level military and diplomatic codes. He received, among other honors, two commendations from the Military Intelligence Division in recognition of his service, contribution, and devotion to duty, and the Army Commendation Award.