New College of Film Receives $2 Million Challenge Grant from Mellon

April 14, 2014

Wesleyan's College of Film and the Moving Image has been awarded a $2 million challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The grant will create a dedicated endowment for the new college, which combines Wesleyan's renowned Department of Film Studies, the Cinema Archives, the Center for Film Studies and the student-run Film Series. The film program has been the training ground for dozens of outstanding scholars and practitioners in the field; not only is the CFMI the country's premier example of how a liberal arts institution can teach film in a different way from research universities or big cinema programs; it has been ranked among the top 10 film programs in the world by the Hollywood Reporter.

"This is fantastic news," said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. "This Mellon matching grant will help the College of Film build a dedicated endowment, and it will support Wesleyan's tremendous film studies program for years to come. This is a powerful acknowledgment of the work of our faculty and students. The program here is the best example of how to teach film in a liberal arts context."

Wesleyan will match the Mellon challenge with $4 million raised over the next four years. The grant and the matching funds both count toward the multi-year, multi-million dollar fundraising campaign promoting access, inquiry and impact across the university. The campaign asks alumni, parents and friends to share not only their gifts, but their reasons that a Wesleyan education is their cause.

A $6 million dedicated endowment for CFMI will support the teaching, outreach and interdisciplinary studies that are the college's cornerstones. There is abundant demand: currently 90 students at Wesleyan are film majors, nearly double the number in 2000. Non-film majors also may study in the college, and film classes are continually oversubscribed; approximately 10 percent of undergraduates enrolled in a film course in Spring 2013.

Each year the department hosts visiting faculty, enabling it to extend and vary course offerings; seven visitors are teaching in the department this year, including New York Times Film Critic A. O. Scott.

Also benefiting from the endowment will be the Cinema Archives, which allows students to work with original scripts, production documents, research notes, and personal diaries of the filmmakers they study. This semester, curator Andrea McCarty is teaching a course in film archives research and methodology, the first offered for undergraduates in the United States.

"We are all thrilled to have our new college recognized for its interdisciplinary excellence and innovation and to receive the support we need to be come even better," said Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor and chair of film studies. "We're grateful to Michael Roth for spearheading this financial grant, and we're receiving congratulations from our alums all over the world. Everybody's happy!"