After 15 years of sponsoring a total of 74 journalists studying at the Yale Law School, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will discontinue its funding of the Knight Fellowships in Law for Journalists, effectively ending the program this fall.
Law School spokeswoman Janet Conroy said three to four journalists were typically admitted each year to the program, which provided recipients with a living stipend and free tuition at the Law School as they earned a Master of Studies in Law degree. She said the value of the entire fellowship amounted to approximately $55,000 per student.
Conroy said the Law School community appreciates the Knight Foundation’s assistance during the program’s existence, and the University respects the group’s decision to stop awarding funds to students.
“[We’re very grateful] to the Knight Foundation for all of their support,” Conroy said. “It’s been critical.”
Conroy said the Knight Foundation’s decision was a “routine end of a five-year grant cycle.”
“They decided to use some of their moneys in different ways,” Conroy said.
The Knight Foundation’s relationship with Yale Law will not end with the discontinuation of the fellowships. In 1998 the foundation endowed a chair at the Law School, where professor Jack Balkin was named as the first Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment.
Michael Doyle LAW ’98, who currently serves as a correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers in Washington D.C., said his experience as a Knight Fellow was “sublime.”
“I got the best year of my life out of the program,” Doyle said.
But Doyle said the loss of funding may discourage journalists from applying in the future.
“Obviously there’s going to be a deterrent now,” Doyle said. “Now you’re facing both paying the full cost [of Yale Law School tuition] and you’re looking at taking a year off of your professional life without an endorsement from the [Knight] Foundation.”
Luiza Chwialkowska Savage LAW ’03 said before she became a Knight Fellow, she reported on the Supreme Court of Canada for the National Post, and the experience sparked her desire to study law in-depth.
“Spending a year learning the law as a coherent whole was something I had been pining for my whole career,” Chwialkowska Savage said. “There wasn’t a class [at the Law School] that didn’t touch on something that comes up in my career.”
Chwialkowska Savage said her fellowship experience was “personally enriching” because while she was participating in the program she met Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage LAW ’03 — who was also a Knight Fellow — and they married in Battell Chapel last September.
Chwialkowska Savage is now a Washington correspondent for the New York Sun.
Conroy said the Law School will continue offering Master of Studies in Law degrees, but will not offer funding to make up for the lost fellowships.
“It’s something that we looked at this year and we may do in the future, but not this year,” Conroy said.
Alumni of the Knight Fellowship include New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse LAW ’78, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for her coverage of the Supreme Court.