Kennedy School Receives $7.5 Million Donation for Student Military Fellowships

{shortcode-5da6be00c2b10607584967a45871eedf7ece0b88}The Harvard Kennedy School received $7.5 million for a student fellowship program for U.S. veterans and active duty military members Thursday, according to a press release from the school.

The donation, which came from the Debra and Leon Black Family Foundation, will cover attendance costs for up to 25 graduate students annually — starting with those matriculating in fall 2019 — across the Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Law School. Leon D. Black, who graduated from the Business School in 1975, is the founder of Apollo Global Management, a prominent New York-based private equity firm.

According to a Kennedy School press release, the gift is the largest donation made to Harvard in recent years specifically to fund the education of students who are current or former members of the U.S. military.

“The men and women who serve in the U.S. military play a critical role in maintaining global security and stability,” Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf said in the press release. “This fellowship program will further the training and development of our military and veteran students, increasing their capabilities as leaders.”

The Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School will administer the fellowship program. The center recently appointed Wendy R. Sherman, a former U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, to succeed David R. Gergen as the center’s director.


“Through the generosity of the Debra and Leon Black Family Foundation, a growing number of active duty and veteran students will be able to attend Harvard, affording them the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of today’s policy and national security challenges,” Gergen, who is also a Kennedy School professor, said in the statement.

According to the press release, around 250 veterans and active duty military members attend classes at Harvard each year. At the Kennedy School, which is known for its ties to national security and foreign policy circles, approximately 65 military students enroll in degree programs each year.

Elmendorf emphasized that, following graduation, many of these students take what they learn in Cambridge to work at the highest levels of government.

“Following their Harvard experience, these students often take the knowledge gained back into public service, making significant, positive contributions in a variety of roles,” Elmendorf said in the statement. “Several of our military and veteran alumni now serve in Congress as well as in other senior positions across the U.S. government and military.”

The Kennedy School is not the only one of Harvard’s professional schools with a significant military population. There are currently 84 military students enrolled at the Business School and more than 40 military students are enrolled at the Law School this year.

In the release, Black said the goal of the fellowship is to “promote ethical, values-based leadership and character.”

“Through the fellowship program, we can provide these talented emerging leaders with tools, focused preparation, and a vibrant network of peers and colleagues, establishing a strong and lasting foundation for future world-class public leadership,” Black said.

—Staff writer Alexandra A. Chaidez can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @a_achaidez.


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