June 20th, 2014

Redstone generosity again benefits BU

New gift funds a professorship at COM

Viacom and CBS chair Sumner M. Redstone (Hon.’94) has given a shot in the arm to journalism at the College of Communication, with a gift of $2.5 million to name a new professorship. Meant to encourage the production and appreciation of narrative storytelling, the gift becomes the second major contribution to BU that Redstone has made in two years.

The gift will support the Sumner M. Redstone Professorship in Narrative Studies, endowed through a gift from the Sumner M. Redstone Charitable Foundation. The chair will be held by a senior COM faculty member (not yet named) with scholarly and teaching expertise in the field of narrative studies.

“Storytelling in both entertainment and journalism has always been an integral focus of my business life through Viacom and CBS,” Redstone said recently in BU Today. “I am proud to help inspire others to the field by furthering the conversation and study of narrative storytelling at one of the country’s leading institutions.”

I am proud to help inspire others to the field by furthering the conversation and study of narrative storytelling at one of the country’s leading institutions.” —Sumner M. Redstone (Hon.’94)

Thomas Fiedler, dean of COM, said the function of the new professorship aligns with the vision that has powered Redstone’s remarkable career.

“Sumner Redstone famously said, ‘Content is king,’” Fiedler (COM’71) noted. “We define narrative as storytelling with a purpose, and see it as one of the fundamental skills that underpin every discipline we teach.”

Following his work as a law secretary to the U.S. Court of Appeals and as special assistant to the U.S. Attorney General, Redstone joined National Amusements Inc., in 1954; the company has grown into a sprawling collection of 950 movie screens here and abroad. In 1982, Redstone joined the faculty of the BU School of Law, where he created one of the nation’s first courses in entertainment law and pioneered the school’s curriculum for protecting intellectual property in the entertainment industry. In 1994, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws from BU.

In September 2012, Redstone gave $18 million to help expand and improve the facilities at BU Law, including the construction of the new Sumner M. Redstone Building adjacent to the school’s core facility. For 34 years, he has also sponsored BU’s Redstone Film Festival, a competition showcasing the most promising work by students and recent grads of COM’s filmmaking and screenwriting programs.

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