A gift of $2 million from Matthew B. Lindner, BA '12, and his father, Carl H. Lindner III, of Cincinnati, Ohio, will create the Matthew B. Lindner Endowment for Excellence in Film and Digital Media. The gift made the Film and Digital Media program, currently housed within the Department of Communication, a freestanding department within the College of Arts and Sciences, effective June 1. Matthew Lindner and his father, Carl, each gave $1 million.
"The faculty members in Baylor's Film and Digital Media program provided me with the kind of well-rounded education I needed to turn a love for film into the reality of a professional career in movies," said Matthew Lindner, who earned a BA in Film and Digital Media from Baylor in 2012 and is a producer and investor in the independent film industry. "Words can't describe the impact Baylor had on me, and I'm very happy to give back in some way. My hope is for Baylor to one day be known as one of the best film departments in the nation."
During the past decade, Baylor's Film and Digital Media (FDM) program has established a growing reputation as a place where students with drive and talent can find their artistic voice and develop skills as storytellers. The FDM program's graduates have gone on to careers as noted writers, directors, cinematographers and producers across the country, establishing a strong link between the Baylor name and industry success.
"Baylor University is deeply grateful to Matthew Lindner and his father, Carl, for their remarkable generosity that will enable the University to transform our wonderful Film and Digital Media program into a full academic department," Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr said. "This powerful demonstration of Matthew's deep love and respect for the education he received at Baylor will help strengthen Baylor's ability to produce industry leaders who bring a faith-informed approach to the artistry of film-based storytelling."
Funds distributed in the coming years from the Matthew B. Lindner Endowment for Excellence in Film and Digital Media will make possible activities including the production of feature-length films under the direction of FDM faculty members and the collaboration of industry professionals in mentoring and engaging undergraduate and graduate students. Leading the department as its inaugural chair will be Chris Hansen, MFA, an independent filmmaker and director of the FDM program. Having joined Baylor's faculty in 2004, Hansen has served as director of the FDM program since 2009. He is an award-winning writer and director.
"The Film and Digital Media program has reached a critical mass of faculty and students that, in association with its emerging national recognition in filmmaking and technology, warrants greater visibility and branding of its discipline as a Department of Film and Digital Media in the College of Arts and Sciences," said Lee Nordt, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of geology.
Matthew Lindner earned an MFA from the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. He is an independent contractor for the Cincinnati Film Commission and as a movie producer. He was involved as a producer of the feature-length film "Jacqueline (Argentine)," which was filmed in October 2014 in Argentina and stars Camille Rutherford under the direction of Bernardo Britto.
Carl H. Lindner III is co-CEO of American Financial Group Inc., a Fortune 500 Company. Carl and his wife, Martha, are graduates of the University of Cincinnati. In 2011, Carl and Martha Lindner made a $3.6 million gift to support the Global Mission Leadership Initiative in Baylor's School of Social Work.
"I am very pleased to come alongside Matthew in supporting Baylor's Film and Digital Media program as it seeks to advance the Christian values of Baylor University and make a difference in the world through film and other forms of media," Carl H. Lindner III said. "Matthew's love of Baylor, his passion for his chosen profession and his philanthropic efforts as a young man have inspired me and provide a wonderful example to the Baylor family."
As further evidence of the excellence of Baylor's Film and Digital Media program, four Baylor Bears were named by Variety magazine to its list of 110 students who represent the future of film, media and entertainment in honor of Variety's 110th anniversary. The story first appeared in the April 28 issue of Variety. The honorees, all currently in Baylor's Film and Digital Media program, are graduate students Clint Keller, Zachary Korpi, BA '14, Brynn Sankey and junior Darien Wulf.