Michael Taylor, professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), was installed as the inaugural holder of the Kortschak Family Endowed Division Chair in Film and Television Production on Nov. 7.
The event was attended by USC President C. L. Max Nikias, first lady Niki C. Nikias, Dean Elizabeth M. Daley, the Kortschak family and more than 100 faculty, staff and supporters of the school.
SCA currently has endowed positions from entertainment industry luminaries Alfred and Alma Hitchcock and Martha and Dino De Laurentiis, as well as Microsoft, but the new chair is the first nonentertainment 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 nonprofit initiatives, are longtime friends of USC. In 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. Their children, Andrew and Sarah, are currently enrolled at SCA.
Taylor began his career as a motion picture executive at United Artists Corp. and served as the studio’s head of European production in London, where he supervised The Pink Panther Strikes Again and The Spy Who Loved Me, among other movies.
He also served as executive assistant to the president of Orion Pictures, where he was involved in the financing, production and distribution of many notable films, including Gorky Park and Amadeus.
Taylor 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 “game changer” 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 film and television production has application far beyond its entertainment value,” Taylor said. “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 industry to also invest in the media because of its social value.
“This endowment is extremely important to us,” Daley said. “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 talented, experienced industry professionals like Michael Taylor.”