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Gift Funds Journalism Fellowships

Paul Sagan and Ann Burks Sagan endow support for Medill graduate students

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September 18, 2012 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A new gift from Paul Sagan, a Northwestern Board of Trustees member, and his wife, Ann Burks Sagan, will help talented future journalists get financial help to pursue a graduate degree at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. 

The $1 million gift will establish the Sagan Graduate Fellowships in Journalism and Media at Medill. 

“Talented prospective students interested in a graduate degree from Medill should not be impeded by financial need,” said John Lavine, who stepped down in August after six years as dean of Medill. “This gift provides important future support to Medill’s greatest area of need, and it offers significant benefits to both the fellowship recipients and the University.” 

The gift reflects one of the four pillars of Northwestern’s strategic plan: Connect our community. The University is focused on connecting individuals from widely diverse backgrounds and life experiences to create a vibrant, inclusive community. 

“The Sagans’ generous gift will enable prospective students who might not otherwise be able to join the Northwestern community to now attend a school that is among the best in the world,” said Robert E. McQuinn, vice president for alumni relations and development at Northwestern.

Medill is internationally known for its innovative training in reporting and telling stories, producing interactive and multimedia content, experimenting with technologies and discovering what audiences need to be better informed. Graduate students often participate in innovative team projects to solve real problems for and with media organizations.

“We want to make sure the most talented students, regardless of their economic backgrounds, are able to attend Medill and enter the field of journalism prepared to understand and explain today’s interconnected world,” said Paul Sagan, who serves as a co-chair of the board of advisors for Medill, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in 1981. “Ann and I are strong supporters of Medill and we want to help these students have the opportunity to experience all that Northwestern can offer.” 

Sagan, a former journalist, is the president and chief executive officer of Akamai Technologies, Inc., a company that offers cloud-computing services that help enterprises with the delivery, performance and security of their online content and applications. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has spent most of his career leading technology companies and media businesses. Previously, Sagan was senior advisor to the World Economic Forum on information technologies for multinational corporations, and he was president and editor of new media at Time Inc. 

“Paul’s wise counsel as a trustee and his support for Medill over the years have been invaluable to Northwestern,” said Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, “and we’re especially grateful for his and Ann’s philanthropic leadership.”