CTVA department receives $1 million endowment and scholarship fund from an anonymous donor

Juana Esquivel

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The Cinema and Television Arts (CTVA) department has received an anonymous $1 million donation and scholarship fund to honor an alumnus.

The announcement was made on Feb. 1 by the chair of the CTVA department. The $1 million endowment and scholarship fund was made anonymously to honor CSUN alumni Scott M. Weiss, who died in a car accident in 2008, according to a CSUN press release.

“Everyone is really proud of the fact that the department has received such a generous gift,” said Temma Willey, chair of the CTVA department. “We really are, the students are really proud of this, (and) happy about it.”

The “Scott M. Weiss Memorial Scholarship Fund” and the “Scott M. Weiss Memorial Scholarship Endowment” will be available to CTVA students only, Willey said.

Willey said an endowment is “a gift when someone dies, it is a posthumous gift, often a significant amount of money that will earn interest that’s used to give scholarships and awards and to benefit the students.”

She added that the scholarship fund is separate from the endowment.

“Because the donor wanted things to start right now, he also has generously given some direct scholarship money so that endowment is separate from (the scholarship) so the students can benefit while the endowment is in.”

The scholarship will be of $10,000 this year and it will be given to two students in the amount of $5,000 each, Willey said.

Willey said little about the anonymous donor.

“There is nothing you can say about ‘anonymous’ other than they have a generous heart and I can also say that the anonymous donor wants to honor Scott M. Weiss with this memorial,” she said. “The word ‘memorial’ here is very important not only that we remember him but that his life is an inspiration to others.”

She added that the donor has asked to be anonymous.

“The donor wants this to be all about Scott,” she said. “Not about anything else.”

Scott M. Weiss was a student in the CTVA department. Willey said things “clicked” for Weiss in the department, he found his career path in it and went on to be successful after school.

After CSUN, Weiss worked for the Olympics, major networks, Fox, major picture companies, and he worked as an editor.

Willey describes Weiss as a “self-made man” and said his time at CSUN helped him become that.

“He did that with the support of his education here, he did that with the support of students he worked with, (and) faculty he worked with,” she said.
Willey said that regardless of his death, the CTVA department would still honor Weiss.

“If Scott had lived, we would be inviting him back home to speak to students,” she said. “He’d be one of our alumni who we’d see if he could help us teach a class, see if he could help mentor another student, see if he could come and give a presentation.”

She added the donation is a way for that connection to continue even though he is gone.

CTVA students interested in receiving the award do not have to apply because it will be given by faculty nomination.

Willey said students interested in the scholarship need to have a minimum GPA of 2.5, be at least a junior, and demonstrated talent, professionalism, and to be outstanding in they’re likely that they will be a success.

“Really an individual who is someone like Scott Weiss was,” she said. “Someone who could use a little help financially, someone who has blossomed here, in the cinema and television arts department, someone who is talented, someone who is really ready to begin their professional life.”

CSUN student Eduardo Zamora, 22, a junior Pre-CTVA major said an award like this could benefit him.

“It could help fund my education,” he said. “I’m trying to get into the film option, so that’s money for those classes and to save to look for an apartment out here so I could stay closer to school.”

Zamora said he heard about the anonymous donation from other students around campus and thinks it is “a nice thing to do in remembrance of that student.”

However, CSUN student Katie Burgess, 25, senior CTVA major, said when she first read about the donation, she thought it was a fluke so she looked passed it. Now, she still cannot believe the donation has been made, she said.

“I think it’s amazing just because then we get more benefits because I know last semester that we were limited to a lot of resources especially for single cameras. For 341 (class), it is hard for you to check out equipment so with extra money it can benefit students in a positive way with allowing us to go above and beyond what we’re used to so we get more resources and all that kind of stuff,” Burgess said.

Although the CTVA department offers many other scholarships for students, Willey said this one is special.

“We’re just really grateful,” she said. “The faculty is grateful, (and) all the students.”

She added that the CTVA department is adding Weiss’ biographical information on the scholarship department section of their Web site while the scholarship information is being put together.