Alan Page (’78) Receives Inaugural Polaris Lifetime Achievement Award
Alan Page (’78), a former Minnesota Supreme Court justice and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has been awarded the 2017 Polaris Lifetime Achievement Award for his “continuous and impactful contributions … regarding equity, diversity and justice.” Page will be the first recipient of the award, which was established by the University earlier this year to recognize emergent and established change makers who have made extraordinary contributions to enhance equity and diversity. Page will receive the award on Thursday, April 27, at the Campus Club in Coffman Memorial Union.
Page was an All-America player on the University of Notre Dame’s 1966 national championship football team. He played defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings from 1967 to 1978 and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1971; he earned his J.D. from the Law School while playing for the Vikings. In 1985, after working for the Minneapolis law firm Lindquist & Vennum for several years, he was appointed a special assistant in the Minnesota attorney general’s office, and was soon promoted to assistant attorney general, a post he held until joining the state’s high court in 1992. He stepped down in 2015 after reaching the court’s mandatory retirement age of 70.
In 1988, he created the Page Education Foundation to help students of color pay for college. Recipients, who are known as Page Scholars, mentor elementary and middle-school students as part of their scholarships. In 1988, there were 10 Page Scholars. By 2015, that number had grown to 536 Page Scholars, receiving about $900,000 in grants.
“I’ve learned from school, from football, and from the law that even the biggest, scariest problems can be broken down to their fundamentals,” Page said in his 1988 NFL Hall of Fame speech. “And if all of us cannot be superstars, we can remember to repeat the simple fundamentals of taking responsibility for ourselves and for the children of this country. We must educate our children. And if we do, I believe that will be enough.”
In nominating him for the award, Katrice A. Albert, the University’s vice president for equity and diversity, noted that “Page has used his focus, hard work, dedication, and passion—along with his remarkable intellect and his relative celebrity status—to further the goal of making education more accessible and attainable for Minnesota’s youth, especially students of color.”