November 9, 2012

Kortschak Family Honored

SCA Installs the Kortschak Family Endowed Division Chair

One of the most prestigious honors that can be awarded to a professor in academia is the endowed chair. On November 7th, USC celebrated the installation of Michael Taylor as the Kortschak Family Endowed Division Chair in Film and Television Production. The event was attended by Walter, Marcia, Andrew and Sarah Kortschak, USC President C. L. Max Nikias and USC First Lady Niki Nikias, Dean Elizabeth M. Daley, newly installed Chair Michael Taylor and over one hundred faculty, staff and supporters of the School.

Andrew Kortschak, Marcia Kortschak, Walter Kortschak, Sarah Kortschak,
Niki Nikias and USC President C. L. Max Nikias

SCA currently has endowed positions from entertainment industry luminaries such as Alfred and Alma Hitchcock, Martha and Dino De Laurentiis and Microsoft, but the Kortschak Chair makes history as the first non-entertainment industry endowed position at the School. Benefactors Walter and Marcia Kortschak are SCA parents who were inspired to give because of their children’s interest in the Cinematic Arts.

“It’s been an interesting path for us, as parents, to watch our children explore the magic of the entertainment industry,” Walter Kortschak told the crowd at the dedication ceremony. “We couldn’t be happier to work with visionaries like Michael Taylor and Dean Daley. We know that the School of Cinematic Arts will remain a national treasure.”

Walter Kortschak, one of the country’s top venture capitalists, and Marcia Kortschak, an active volunteer for non-profit initiatives, are long-time allies of USC. In November 2010, the Kortschaks established the USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity to support USC students with dyslexia, attention deficit challenges and other learning differences with a broad array of innovative services. Their children, Andrew and Sarah, are both currently enrolled at SCA.

Michael Taylor began his career as a Motion Picture Executive at United Artists Corporation and served as UA's Head of European Production based in London, supervising movies like The Pink Panther Strikes Again and the James Bond thriller The Spy Who Loved Me. He also served as Vice President, Executive Assistant to the President of Orion Pictures Corporation, where he was involved in the financing, production and distribution of many notable films including Easy Money, Gorky Park and Amadeus. Taylor teaches in the Production Division at SCA and serves as Executive Director of the Media Institute for Social Change, which promotes and supports entertainment with positive social messages.

Taylor said it was a “gamechanger” that the Kortschaks, who have no official business ties to the entertainment industry, would support the School. “I think it’s because they saw that in the twenty-first century film and television production has application far beyond its entertainment value. It’s understood that in the future, film and television production have applications in all the sciences, and of course all the arts." Their support, he said, could inspire other people outside the entertainment industry to also recognize and invest in the media because of its social value.

“This endowment is extremely important to us,” said Dean Elizabeth M. Daley. “Endowment is an investment in everything that we do at the School but, just as importantly, this will serve as an inspiration for everyone that walks through the door that [the Kortschak Family] believes in their talent, ability to contribute and ability to change the entertainment industry. This Endowed Chair will ensure that the Division of Film and Television Production will continue for generations to come and will be led by a talented, experienced industry professionals—like Michael Taylor.”

The Kortschak Family joins a long list of endowed chairs at the School, including:

Steven J. Ross/Time Warner
Dean’s Chair in Cinema-Television
Elizabeth Daley
Hugh M. Hefner
Chair for the Study of American Film
Richard B. Jewell
Alma and Alfred Hitchcock
Chair for the Study of American Film
Drew Casper
Fran and Ray Stark
Chair for the Study of American Film
Lawrence Turman
Electronic Arts
Chair in Interactive Entertainment
Tracy Fullerton
Conrad Hall
Chair in Cinematography
Judy Irola
Funded by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg
Stephen K. Nenno
Chair in Television Studies
Ellen Seiter
Stephen K. Nenno
Chair in Television Production
Mary Pickford Chair
Doe Mayer
Katherine and Frank Price
Chair for the Study of Race and Popular Culture
Todd Boyd
Kay Rose
Chair in the Art of Sound and Dialogue Editing
Midge Costin
Funded by George Lucas
Ken Wannberg
Chair in Music Editing
Kenneth Hall
Funded by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg
Larry Auerbach Chair
Larry Auerbach
Funded by Marcia Lucas
Dana and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli
Chair in Producing
John K. Watson
Jack Oakie
Chair in Comedy
Jack Epps, Jr.
Cecil B. DeMille
Chair in Silent Film
Dino and Martha DeLaurentiis
Mary Sweeney
Microsoft Professorship
Dennis Wixon