June 20, 2019
USC Among Three Universities to Share $50 Million Gift from The Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts
The gift honors television trailblazer John H. Mitchell and will support initiatives in Diversity
USC is one of three universities that will share a gift of $50 million, focused on ethics and diversity in business, areas that have become of greater importance and concern in recent years. The gift, from the Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts, was conceived by the late philanthropist Patricia W. Mitchell to honor the legacy of her husband, John H. Mitchell, a television pioneer who died in 1988, and was President of Columbia Pictures Television in the 60s and 70s. It is administered by William C. Allen, trustee of the Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts. The other two universities to benefit are UCLA, which will receive $20 million; and the University of Michigan, John Mitchell’s alma mater, which will receive $10 million.
USC’s $20 million endowment will benefit entertainment business programs at the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA). The gift will establish The John H. Mitchell Endowed Fund for the Business of Entertainment and The John H. Mitchell Endowed Chair in the Business of Entertainment which will be held by a faculty member entrusted to overseeing curriculum and implementing programming related to the Mitchell Trust’s interest in forwarding ethical creative and business practices in media industries. SCA’s programs in business entertainment will also be re-named The John H. Mitchell Business of Cinematic Arts Program (BCA), and The John H. Mitchell Graduate Certificate in the Business of Entertainment. And the fund will also provide financial support to a diverse community of students who are enrolled in programs funded by the Mitchell Trusts through the establishment of The Patricia W. & John H. Mitchell Endowed Fund for Student Support. Students who receive financial aid will be known as Mitchell Scholars.
While the School of Cinematic Arts has received other gifts focused on ethics and diversity, this is the first gift that specifically addresses the business, rather than creative, side of the entertainment industry. SCA’s business programs, which are jointly administered with the USC Marshall School of Business, train students who are interested in careers like entertainment business management, or would like to be agents or executives. The John H. Mitchell Business of Cinematic Arts Program (BCA) is an undergraduate degree program for students admitted to the Marshall School of Business; and The John H. Mitchell Graduate Certificate in the Business of Entertainment serves students enrolled in graduate degree programs at Cinema, Marshall, the Gould School of Law, and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Faculty teaching in both the undergraduate and graduate programs will carry the titles of John H. Mitchell Professors or Executives in Residence.
USC will add an additional equivalent of a $5 million endowment earmarked for student support to double the number of Mitchell Scholars. This brings the total value of the Mitchell Trusts’ gift to USC to $25 million.
USC President-elect Carol L. Folt said the university is grateful for the expansive benefits the gift will bring to USC’s business entertainment programs, and the impact it will have on the entertainment industry impact. “We are very grateful for the Mitchell Trusts’ tremendous support of our faculty and students,” she said. “Building on collaborative efforts to reimagine the entertainment industry, they will help bring a diverse array of stories to the screen with exceptional integrity and creativity. Thanks to this generous gift, USC will have an even greater impact on the industry’s commercial and artistic future.”
Mitchell Trusts administrator William C. Allen says John and Patricia Mitchell targeted universities as beneficiaries for their giving because they are centers of innovation and change. “Increasing global competition and the accelerating pace and scale of technological innovation are disrupting all of the world’s major industry sectors and creating enormous challenges and opportunities for individuals and companies in the process,” states Allen. “World class research universities are at the center of much of this innovation and transformation and are increasingly attracting the best and the brightest students from around the globe. As such, they are uniquely positioned to prepare current and future generations to navigate these complexities as their graduates go on to create, scale and sustain both companies and content for rapidly evolving industries like media and entertainment.”
John H. Mitchell was an executive who changed the face of television. He was known for pioneering change, whether it was converting radio formats to television, bringing feature films to the small screen, or innovating advertising practices. Mitchell worked in every aspect of the entertainment business, from sales and marketing to production and programming. During an enviable career he produced television content in every imaginable genre, established Screen Gems and Columbia Pictures Television, was President of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, and even founded the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Considered an entertainment business visionary, he had a hand in more than 100 television series over a four-decade career, including hits like The Flintstones and Father Knows Best, and the television movie Brian’s Song. Patricia Mitchell was a prolific singer and performer who debuted at the legendary Cotillion Room of New York City’s Hotel Pierre. This paved the way for appearances at all the major supper clubs across the country and abroad. When she married John, she shifted gears and opted to devote her time and attention to her new family life. Always community-minded, Patricia Mitchell provided leadership through her involvement with a variety of organizations, including the Beverly Hills Family Y, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Trousdale Homeowners Association, the Young Musician’s Foundation and the Center for the Partially Sighted.
UCLA’s $20 million gift will benefit its School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT). It will also add an additional $5 million to the student support portion of the gift. The University of Michigan will receive $10 million to benefit its Steven M. Ross School of Business and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA).
The additional match funding from UCLA and USC—$5 million from each to be directed toward their respective campuses—brings the total amount of the gift to sixty million dollars. Trustee William Allen is exploring additional funding that may bring the total value of the gifts to $100 million, and welcomes parties interested in pursuing matching gift opportunities to contact him or the three universities directly.