Haute 100: Mark Burnett Establishes Endowment to Support USC’s School of Cinematic Arts


Haute 100 lister Mark Burnett, one of televisions most influential executives, has established an endow chair at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. The endowment will support the school’s summer program.

The endowment will further back “The Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multiyear effort to secure $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand the university’s positive impact on the community and world. The campaign has raised $5.2 billion to date,” the university stated.

In a statement released by the university, “These are landmark moments in the history of a school. There is nothing that honors faculty more than an endowed chair,” said SCA Dean Elizabeth M. Daley. “Mark Burnett’s generosity is truly transformative to the School of Cinematic Arts and, combined with the leadership of David Weitzner, the Summer Program will continue to have a critical role in shaping the young women and men who will go on to take leadership positions in the entertainment industry.”

The first individual to be the holder of the chair will be professor David Weitzner. Professor Weitzner is an adjunct instructor teaching in the Business of Entertainment program to the USC School of Cinematic Arts. As the first holder of chair, Weitzner will oversee the summer program, which features classes taught by leading industry professionals during two separate six-week sessions. The classes focus on feature filmmaking, editing, animation, writing, computer graphics, interactive game design and the business of the industry.

“I was immediately taken with David. He’s the CEO — the Chief Encouragement Officer. He knows when you have to give constructive criticism. You have to tell them the truth. But he’s such a loving guy that he can do the job,” Burnett told the audience in the Ray Stark Family Theatre. “The School of Cinematic Arts is such a brilliant school because it spots the people with the charisma and vision to go forward in this business and teaches them the craft.”

Weitzner, who is pleased to be the first chair holder, added, “Mark has been more generous to me than I have any right to expect. For this great honor, I am deeply humbled and deeply appreciative.”