UCLA TFT receives $20 million gift to propel diversity and ethics in entertainment, preserve TV history
By Rebecca Kendall
Building a more ethical and socio-economically diverse entertainment landscape while ensuring that television’s history is preserved and shared with future generations is the driving force behind a transformational $20 million gift to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT) and the UCLA Film & Television Archive from the Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts.
The gift was conceived by the late philanthropist Patricia W. Mitchell to honor the legacy of her husband, legendary television industry leader John H. Mitchell, who died in 1988.
UCLA TFT will use $10 million from the Mitchell Trusts, coupled with a $5 million contribution from the UCLA Chancellor’s Centennial Scholars Match program, to create the John H. and Patricia W. Mitchell Endowed Scholarship Fund. This endowment advances UCLA TFT’s efforts to recruit and retain the most talented and diverse students pursuing degrees in the entertainment and performing arts industries.
In addition, $10 million will be directed to the UCLA Film & Television Archive, the second-largest moving image archive in the United States, after the Library of Congress, and the world’s largest university-based media archive.
"We’re particularly excited to be making this gift at UCLA," said Bill Allen, who serves as the trustee of the Mitchell Trusts and whose parents Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows were longtime friends of the Mitchells, "because not only will it help provide a diverse community of students with strong ethical, creative and business foundations for careers in the business, but it will help preserve the legacy of so many great industry leaders of the past who have created so much wonderful television that UCLA has been, in my opinion, heroically, attempting to preserve with insufficient resources from the industry and others for a very long time."
The gift will support annual archive programming for television, such as workshops, lectures, screenings, symposiums, as well as greatly needed television preservation opportunities. It will also fund the creation of a state-of-the art framework for the digitization of various television formats for future generations. The gift will also significantly enhance the archive’s ability to acquire, preserve and make available to the public, the work of television’s greatest creators, whose work might otherwise be lost, and whose impact would have therefore been forgotten. In addition, the television archive will be renamed the John Mitchell Collection at the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
"We at UCLA TFT are deeply honored and filled with tremendous gratitude to be the recipient of this magnificent gift," said Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. "This is a groundbreaking, visionary gift that will be fully transformational for our outstanding students and for our UCLA Film & Television Archive. Through the great generosity of the Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts, we have the special opportunity to advance the groundbreaking work of our world-renowned archive and recruit and retain the finest, most diverse students in the world as the new Mitchell Scholars — all in harmony with the values and goals of the Mitchell family to educate and train the next generation of ethical industry leaders prepared to navigate the entire landscape of the entertainment industry with deep skill, knowledge and real-world experiences. We are very proud to be the home for this gift and to have the honor of upholding the very special legacy of John H. and Patricia W. Mitchell. Without question, we at UCLA TFT will steward this inspiring gift with great care, thoughtfulness and full dedication to ensure its lasting success, long into the future."
Born and raised in New York, John Mitchell graduated from the University of Michigan in 1939 with a degree in economics. A pioneering television studio executive, he began his entertainment career in the formative years of the industry. He joined Screen Gems productions in 1952 as one of its original employees and eventually founded what would be Screen Gems' successor, Columbia Pictures Television, serving as its president from 1968 to 1977. More than 100 television series and 50 TV movies were produced during his tenure, including The Flintstones, Brian's Song, which won five Emmy Awards, and Father Knows Best, among others. In the 1980s, Mitchell served three terms as president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Patricia Mitchell spent her childhood in Portland, Oregon, where she honed her talent as a singer and performer. At 16, Mitchell, who was then known as Pat Windsor, had already started making a name for herself, debuting in New York City at the Cotillion Room of the 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 provided leadership through her involvement with a variety of organizations, including the Beverly Hills Family Y, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Trousdale Homeowners Association, the Young Musician's Foundation and the Center for the Partially Sighted.
The $20 million gift to UCLA TFT is part of a broader $50 million gift that includes the University of Michigan and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The University of Michigan will receive $10 million and USC will receive $20 million. Like UCLA, which contributed $5 million to the gift as part of the UCLA Chancellor’s Centennial Scholars Match, USC has contributed a matching donation of $5 million. Allen is working with the three universities to identify other potential gift opportunities that feature a match donation option so that other donors can amplify the value of the effort and potentially bring the overall gift total to $100 million.
"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," said Allen, who is also CEO of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. "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. And as these industries increasingly recognize the value of a more diverse talent pool in front and behind the cameras, I am confident they will welcome the partnership of these particularly inclusive universities in attracting and preparing their workforce of the future."
This story first appeared in the UCLA Newsroom.
Posted: June 20, 2019