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Sara Miller McCune: oration

Read Professor Colin Grant's oration on Sara Miller McCune for the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in June 2014.


Rather less well known than the cities of Los Angeles or San Francisco, the town of Thousand Oaks, California has a population of just 127,000. And yet its name resonates instantly and deeply across the academic world as the home of the (let us say wisely named) academic publishing house SAGE.

Originally from Queens, New York City, Sara McCune launched SAGE in 1965 with – as legend has it – “little more than her love of publishing and the money from the sale of a used air-conditioner.” Today, Sara Miller McCune is the chairwoman of this global corporation with 1,000 employees over four continents (and doubtless with many thousands of air-conditioners). The company has its headquarters in Thousand Oaks, and also offices in Washington D.C., London, New Delhi, Kolkata and Singapore. SAGE publishes more than 650 academic journals with more than 225 titles of learned societies and institutions. SAGE has more than 4,500 titles in print and publishes an impressive 800 titles per year worldwide.

However, the wisdom of Sara Miller McCune does not stop there. In addition to founding one of the leading academic publishing houses in the world, she is equally well known for her philanthropic works. She has funded schools in the developing world, and has been a generous benefactor to the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and also to the Granada Theater Restoration Project in Santa Barbara.

With George D. McCune, Sara founded the charitable McCune Foundation in 1990. The prescient mission of the McCune Foundation is to be “an agent of productive change in society by supporting the growth of social capital in communities.” The Foundation supports a range of projects that address issues of major importance in the Santa Barbara and Ventura counties of California by empowering and mobilising communities that might otherwise be excluded. The McCune Foundation supports groups that are ‘doing with’ those excluded voices rather than ‘doing for’ them and sees its clients as problem-solvers in a marked spirit of collaboration. Awards issued by the Foundation include the ‘ARC of Ventura County for People First of Ventura County’ and ‘Project R: Rethink, Reconsider, Respect’. These are important initiatives that are led by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The awards support these individuals to advocate for themselves without reliance on others. The Foundation has also provided support for ‘El Centrito Family Learning Centers’, for the project entitled ‘Padres Promotores de la Educación’, which empowers parents in the town of Oxnard, California to address inequity in their children’s education. As a further example of the Foundation’s work one could also cite the Mixteco/Indigena Project which develops community leadership among indigenous Oaxacan farm workers to help identify the challenges faced by the Mixtec Community and to campaign for comprehensive change in Ventura County.

In 2008, Sara also founded the Miller McCune Center for Research, Media and Public Policy, which encourages policymakers, business leaders, politicians and scientists to come together and develop solutions to a range of vital issues.

Sara was honoured alongside Hillary Clinton and the President of Liberia by Women’s Campaign International, at an event entitled Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Honoring Inspirational Women around the Globe. In 2003 Sara was also the national winner of the Ernst & Young Spirit of Entrepreneurship award for extraordinary leadership.

Chancellor, I present to you Sara Miller McCune who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.

Professor Colin B. Grant

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