Harvard Kennedy School Establishes the Walter Shorenstein Fellowship in Media and Democracy

December 10, 2013 – Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) today announced an ambitious new fellowship in honor of developer and philanthropist Walter Shorenstein and a name change for the research center endowed by the late Mr. Shorenstein in 1986.

A gift of $5 million from Doug and Lydia Shorenstein to Harvard University will be used to fund the new Walter Shorenstein Fellowship in Media and Democracy. The fellowship will bring high-profile figures in the areas of media, politics and policy to the Kennedy School to engage with students, faculty, scholars and the public on important issues of the moment.

“The Shorenstein Center was one of my father’s proudest achievements,” said Doug Shorenstein, “and I am delighted to be able to make this gift to honor his legacy and keep his influence alive.”

“We are thrilled to launch the Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellowship program thanks to the generosity of Doug and Lydia Shorenstein, and look forward to bringing innovative, cutting-edge thought leaders to the Center,” said HKS Dean David T. Ellwood. “The program will be a perfect way to honor Walter, whose visionary leadership drove the center, the Kennedy School, and the nation.”

The Center’s name will become the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, replacing its previous name, the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

“The name change is intended to recognize the generosity and commitment of the Shorensteins to the Center whose name will now honor the entire family,” said Alex S. Jones, the Laurence M. Lombard Lecturer on the Press and Public Policy, and director of the Shorenstein Center. Walter Shorenstein, who died in 2010, is survived by two children – Doug Shorenstein and Carole Shorenstein Hays – and a number of grandchildren.

The new Walter Shorenstein Fellowship will pay special tribute to the Center’s original benefactor, and the current Shorenstein Fellowships will now be titled the Joan Shorenstein Fellowships. The original name of the Center was a memorial to Joan Shorenstein, Walter’s daughter and a distinguished journalist who died of cancer in 1985.

The new Walter Shorenstein Fellows will spend varying periods of time at Harvard and will engage in issues of great public importance. Over the years, the topics will evolve and change as did Walter Shorenstein’s focus on the major relevant issues of the day.

Walter Shorenstein was one of the nation’s most successful commercial real estate entrepreneurs. He was the founder of the Shorenstein Company, based in San Francisco, and was very active in politics and philanthropy. He was known for his forward thinking and passionate public-spirited engagement. “Above all, he was a great citizen,” said Jones, “and I believe that this new fellowship in his honor will be activist- and results-oriented, which Walter would have wanted.”

Doug Shorenstein is chairman and CEO of the Shorenstein Company. During his tenure, the company has evolved from a San Francisco-oriented real estate operating company into a real estate investment, development and management company that is active throughout the United States. He is the immediate past chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Jones said that the change in the Center’s name to a focus on “media” rather than “press” accurately reflects the broadened mandate that is appropriate for the times. “All media, not just traditional news media, are now having an impact on politics and public policy, and we want our name to reflect the Center’s wide-ranging engagement with every aspect of the way media, politics and policy interact,” Jones said.

The Shorenstein Center is a research center based at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, with a mission to study and analyze the power of media and technology and its impact on governance, public policy and politics. Research, courses, fellowships, public events and engagement with students, scholars and journalists form the core of the Center.