SUNY Chancellor King Announces Harvey Milk Scholarship Award for Student Leadership in Improving Campus LGBTQIA+ Experiences

June 30, 2024

Upper-Level SUNY Students Are Eligible to Apply; Scholarship Award Application to Open this Fall

Albany, NY – In recognition of June as Pride Month, State University of New York Chancellor John B. King Jr. today announced the Harvey Milk Award for Student Leadership. The new scholarship, named in honor of University at Albany class of 1951 alumnus and LGBTQIA+ rights champion Harvey Milk, recognizes an outstanding upper-level student who has dedicated their time to improving LGBTQIA+ inclusiveness on their campus for fellow students.

"Harvey Milk was a champion of LGBTQIA+ rights during a time when many in the LGBTQIA+ community had to hide who they truly were because of hatred. He fought for the right of the LGBTQIA+ community to exist and find acceptance in the United States," said SUNY Chancellor King. "Across the SUNY system, countless students who have and will continue to follow in the footsteps of Harvey Milk and other pioneers to ensure LGBTQIA+ rights are not eroded, and all are welcome and feel included on SUNY campuses."

Stuart Milk, the Nephew of Harvey Milk, the Milk Family Spokesperson, and Co-Founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation said, "We are excited and honored by the announcement today by State University of New York Chancellor John B. King Jr. of an annual Harvey Milk award scholarship! Coming from my uncle's alma mater adds a great deal of significance to the historic and global legacy of Harvey Milk. The SUNY Harvey Milk scholarship will serve to support students as a living testament to Uncle Harvey's enduring impact and will serve to be a source of inspiration for all for those who continue to embrace diversity, champion human rights, and honor the memory of a trailblazer who gave his life in the line of justice and freedom."

The application is expected to open this fall. The following is the criteria for the award:

  • Open to all SUNY, full time students
  • Upper-class (sophomore, junior, and senior) students and graduate students
  • Students in good academic standing
  • Demonstrate a commitment to advancing an inclusive campus community to enhance LGBTQIA+ members' sense of belonging and experiences
  • Demonstrate leadership experiences that have significant and positive impact on campus or local communities in relation to LGBTQIA+ communities, including but not limited to remove barriers that affect LGBTQIA+ experiences, advocate policy changes, or implement campus-wide events/celebration
  • Nomination required, which includes self-nomination. A one-page essay to support student's candidacy that demonstrates student's involvement and leadership experiences as described in scholarship eligibility and requirement. All nominations must include one letter of recommendation.

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said, "Harvey Milk, a native New Yorker and SUNY grad, is an iconic human rights and political advocate who remains an inspiration to millions. I'm thrilled that during a Pride month, Chancellor King and SUNY are honoring this distinguished alumnus by launching a scholarship program in Harvey Milk's name for upper level SUNY students who have advanced the cause of LGBTQIA+ equality. As an out member of the NYS Senate, I'm hopeful that the new SUNY Harvey Milk Scholarship will help provide the resources for future generations of deserving SUNY students to complete their studies and continue to advance the cause of LGBTQIA + human rights."

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, "I commend SUNY and the Harvey Milk Foundation for launching this noteworthy scholarship after one of UAlbany's most famous alum. Harvey Milk was a true trailblazer, and this scholarship will do so much to support LGBTQ students, as well as continue to draw attention to Harvey Milk and his legacy."

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein said, "It is fitting to honor the legacy of Harvey Milk, a SUNY alum as we celebrate Pride Month. SUNY has made it a priority to promote an inclusive environment and to ensure the LGBTQI+ community has a place to thrive on its campuses. I applaud the creation of the Harvey Milk Award for Student Leadership, which will honor a student who is carrying on Harvey's legacy at such an important time."

National LGBT Chamber of Commerce Senior Membership Manager and Regional Certification Associate Gunner Gardner said, "Harvey Milk and so many great leaders received an excellent education from SUNY to pursue their life's work. We are pleased to see SUNY honor the Milk family with this scholarship during Pride Month, and we look forward to celebrating those awarded with this distinction."

About Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk, a University at Albany alumnus (then called the New York State College for Teachers at Albany), was a visionary civil and human rights leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk's unprecedented and unapologetic proclamation of his authenticity as an openly gay candidate for public office and his subsequent election gave never-before experienced hope to LGBTQIA+ people everywhere at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination. His remarkable career was tragically cut short when he was assassinated nearly a year after taking office.

About the Harvey Milk Foundation

The Harvey Milk Foundation was established by Harvey's nephew Stuart Milk and Harvey's campaign manager, Anne Kronenberg. Stuart, like Harvey, has chosen to speak out as an openly gay advocate for not only the LGBTQIA+ community but also the collective communities of people who remain marginalized or diminished by inequality in the law as well as societal inequality. Harvey Milk believed broad public education and dialogue were paramount to his life's work as a civil rights leader and, as if riding on Harvey's shoulders, the Milk Foundation seeks to inspire individuals, communities and organizations to carry on his values in a timeless vision for a better world.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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