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George Lucas to Provide $175 Million Gift to USC Cinema School

The University of Southern California announced that the Lucasfilm Foundation, the private charitable foundation set up by alumnus George Lucas, will provide $75 million for the construction of new educational buildings and renovations of existing structures at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. In addition, the Foundation has agreed to provide a $100 million endowment for the school.

USC president Steven B. Sample said that, taken together, these gifts represent the largest single donation in USC's history. The School of Cinematic Arts, which is under the leadership of Dean Elizabeth M. Daley, holds the distinction of being the oldest cinema school in the U.S. The USC Board of Trustees has renamed the school, formerly known as the USC School of Cinema Television, as the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The new name will be formally announced at a ceremony on the USC University Park campus in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, 2006.

"I discovered my passion for film and making movies when I was a student at USC in the 1960s, and my experiences there shaped the rest of my career," Lucas said. "I'm also an ardent advocate for education at all levels, and encouraging young people to pursue their ambitions by learning. I'm very fortunate to be in a position to combine my two passions and to be able to help USC continue molding the futures of the moviemakers of tomorrow."

"Through this gift George Lucas manifests the distinctive traits that make him an extraordinary exemplar of the Trojan Family: a prolifically fertile imagination, courage to take creative risks, and a heartfelt desire to educate the next generation of young people," Sample said. "To give back so generously to his alma mater will encourage our students and faculty to continue the legacy that will ensure USC's preeminence in cinema, television and new media well into the future.

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Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.