Philanthropist, business and civic leader Howard P. Milstein has contributed $2.26 million to the University of Virginia’s Miller Center to launch the “Milstein Symposium: Ideas for a New American Century.”
The five-year initiative will continue the center’s innovative work advancing fresh, consensus-based approaches to some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation. It will also emphasize the importance of political history in policymaking, relying on the Miller Center’s award-winning scholars and unique resources on the presidency.
Three Milstein Symposium programs will be held each year. Each will bring together a group of leading scholars and stakeholders who will share ideas and build consensus around recommendations for an important issue. Based on deliberations of this group and other experts, a report will be produced and presented at a Miller Center Forum, a weekly series that airs nationally on PBS.
The public marketplace is inundated with industry studies, academic papers and blue ribbon commissions, said former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director and CEO of the Miller Center. However, the failure to integrate ideas among these groups has made sound – yet practical – solutions difficult to identify, particularly in today’s political climate.
By connecting leading scholars with distinguished members of the public and private sectors, and framing each topic in proper historical context, the Milstein Symposium has formulated a distinct framework that will introduce fresh, bipartisan ideas into the national conversation on issues vital to the nation’s future, Baliles said.
The Miller Center has worked with leading public figures – including former presidents, cabinet secretaries and congressional leaders – to help solve challenges facing the country. National voting reforms, the format of the modern presidential press conference and the proposal by the Miller Center’s most recent commission on the war powers of the president and Congress are examples of the center’s efforts.
“The Miller Center has a proven track record of bringing together people with diverse points of view to develop innovative solutions to the complex challenges facing our nation,” Baliles said. “Thanks to Howard Milstein’s generosity, we can do more of this important work. And with partisanship in Washington at an all-time high, it could not come at a better time.”
Milstein said, “We support institutions and leaders of excellence in areas of our interest. The Miller Center and Jerry Baliles hit our sweet spot.”
Milstein has a long history of involvement in the Charlottesville area and Virginia. In leadership roles on the board of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, he worked with Dan Jordan and played a crucial role in developing the new visitor’s center at Monticello, where all visitors view the introductory film he funded in the Milstein Theater.
He has chaired the Jones Institute Foundation in Norfolk for nearly two decades and has served on the board of the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C. for more than 10 years. His foundation recently was lead funder of the new PBS Series, “Shakespeare Uncovered,” which will debut Jan. 25.
Milstein and his family are known for their philanthropic support and leadership of the nation’s most important cultural, communal, medical and academic institutions. He is personally active at Cornell, Harvard and Columbia universities.
Milstein is chairman, president and chief executive officer of New York Private Bank and Trust and its operating bank, Emigrant Bank, the country’s largest privately held bank. He also chairs and operates the Milstein family’s real estate companies. He and Jack Nicklaus partnered in the Nicklaus Company golf businesses worldwide in 2007.
In 2011, he was selected by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to chair the New York State Thruway Authority. The New York State Senate unanimously confirmed his appointment. He recently led the historic procurement of a new Tappan Zee Bridge resulting in substantial savings to New York taxpayers.
Milstein graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in economics in 1973 summa cum laude. He earned both law and business degrees from Harvard University in 1977.