Campus & Community

Zuckerman establishes fellowship program

5 min read

Fellowships to encourage public sector involvement

Mortimer B. Zuckerman, LL.M. ’62, is giving $10 million to establish a graduate fellowship program that will enable Harvard University to attract 25 exceptional students each year as Zuckerman Fellows. The program will be open to candidates who have earned or are pursuing a business, law, or medical graduate degree at Harvard or another U.S. university and who want to pursue an additional degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, John F. Kennedy School of Government, or Harvard School of Public Health.

The Zuckerman Fellows Program is designed specifically to increase the ranks of future leaders committed to addressing significant issues in the public sector.

In focusing on society’s most critical issues, the fellows will develop a sophisticated understanding of the challenges of the public sector, one that Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers and Zuckerman hope will affect their outlook as they pursue their careers, participate in their communities, and become leaders across many sectors of our society. The fellowships represent a major underpinning of Harvard’s broad-based efforts to encourage the nation’s most promising future leaders to apply their intellect and talent to benefit the public sector.

Harvard expects that the Zuckerman Fellows Program may help reverse a trend in which talented people are moving away from careers in the public sector, opting more often for fields that promise greater financial rewards. “We have an opportunity to help the next generation of Americans to ask themselves what they can do for their country and for their world,” said President Lawrence H. Summers. “Mort Zuckerman’s gift will make a difference not just to students at Harvard but to the shape of our society for generations to come. I am very grateful for his generosity and his dedication to this important mission.”

Zuckerman, who earned an LL.M. at Harvard Law School and who spent nearly a decade teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, said his connection to the University was key to his decision to establish the program. “The years I spent teaching at Harvard were a wonderful experience, and my years as a student there were the gateway to my entire adult life,” Zuckerman said. “I’ve been very blessed. I felt a certain sense of responsibility to repay that, and I’d like to find ways to help students who want to contribute to the community.”

Zuckerman said the sense of contribution the fellows will gain during their study at Harvard will be equally as important as the financial support of the fellowship. “If they are inspired by the program at Harvard, at some point they will feel the pull to serve their own communities – whether on the state, local, or federal level.”

While the Zuckerman Fellows will be very engaged in their individual academic inquiries, the program will also include a series of important shared experiences that complement the fellows’ course work and create a community among them. Zuckerman Fellows will gather on a regular basis during the academic year for dinner and discussion with one another and with a Harvard faculty member, a policy-maker, an educator, a public health professional, or a private sector leader who is strongly involved in the public sector.

The Zuckerman Fellows will also travel together on an annual basis to observe firsthand the work of public sector professionals and to discuss key challenges with leading figures in these fields. The co-curricular component of the Zuckerman Fellows Program will be undertaken by the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Government.

Harvard expects that the Zuckerman Fellows Program will enrich the classroom experience at Harvard. The fellows will bring to the study of education, government, and public health a new set of perspectives.

Zuckerman has spent a good portion of his own career at the intersection of public interest and business enterprise. After graduating from McGill University and earning an LL.M. from Harvard, he went on to earn an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance. He returned to Harvard in 1966 as an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and spent a decade exploring the public policy issues of development, teaching city and regional planning from 1966 to 1975. Meanwhile, Zuckerman built a career in real estate development that would earn him a reputation as one of the country’s most successful investors. In 1969, he started the commercial real estate firm Boston Properties, and by 1986, his company had acquired 53 buildings in 15 cities.

After his successes in real estate, Zuckerman’s personal interest in journalism prompted him to venture into the media industry. He purchased the Atlantic magazine in 1980, and by 1989, its circulation had risen nearly 40 percent. The Atlantic won three National Magazine Awards in 1998, an unprecedented number for one publication in a single year. This success set the stage for numerous other media projects; Zuckerman went on to acquire publications such as U.S. News & World Report, Fast Company, and the New York Daily News. He is a frequent participant on the PBS public policy program The McLaughlin Group.

Zuckerman serves as a trustee for New York University, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute, and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. He is a member and director of the executive committee of WNET/Channel 13 in New York, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.