Northwestern alum receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

Peter Kotecki, Campus Editor

Northwestern alumnus Newton Minow (Speech ‘49, Law ‘50) received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Wednesday.

The prize, considered the highest civilian honor in the United States, was awarded to 21 individuals. Recipients were chosen for their contributions to the security or national interests of the country, cultural pursuits or world peace.

After being appointed by President John F. Kennedy to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, Minow drafted legislation to advocate for the implementation of communication satellite technology and served as chair of the commission. He is also the originator of the televised U.S. presidential debates, and he co-chaired the debates in 1976 and 1980, according to a news release

In 1975, Minow joined the Board of Trustees and became a Life Trustee 12 years later. Since then, the University used part of a $4 million gift to establish a professorship at the Pritzker School of Law in honor of Minow. The gift also helped fund a School of Law debate series named after Minow and his wife.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor – it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” President Barack Obama said in a news release. “From scientists, philanthropists and public servants to activists, athletes and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”

Other recipients of the award include Bill and Melinda Gates, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ellen DeGeneres, Michael Jordan, Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen. The awards will be presented Nov. 22 at the White House.

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