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SUNY Purchase alumni donate $100K to film, media studies

SUNY Purchase College has announced that Chris Wedge (Film, class of 1981) and his wife, Jeanne Markel (Visual Arts, class of 1981), have donated $100,000 to the School of Film and Media Studies at SUNY Purchase.

Jeanne Markel and Chris Wedge. Contributed photo

Wedge also holds an M.A. in Computer Graphics/Art Education from Ohio State University. This generous gift will help fund the renovation of the Film Sound Stage at SUNY Purchase.

Wedge is Co-Founder & Vice President of Creative Development of Blue Sky Studios, FOX and an Oscar winning director. Wedge is the driving force behind the rise of Blue Sky Studio’s prominence as one of the most respected computer animation studios in the world.

Wedge started his career in computer animation at MAGI/Synthavision, where he animated key sequences for “TRON.” In pursuit of a graduate degree in computer graphics at Ohio State University’s Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design, he created two short films: “Tuber’s Two Step” and “Balloon Guy.” He wrote and directed Blue Sky’s first film, “Bunny,” which won more than 25 international awards for animation excellence, including an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1998.

Wedge went on to direct Blue Sky’s first two computer-animated feature films, “Ice Age,” nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film, 2002, and “Robots.” He was executive producer of “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!,” and the global hits “Rio,” “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” and “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” He directed “Epic,” which was released in 2013. He recently completed his first live action/hybrid film “Monster Trucks,” released in 2017.

Wedge was awarded with the Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009 and served on the honorary committee for the Purchase College Arts Gala 2012. On Jan. 26, 2016, Wedge came to SUNY Purchase to speak about his life as a student and his journey through his career and was interviewed by Iris Cahn, class of 1976, professor of film, School of Film and Media Studies.

“On behalf of the college, I thank Chris Wedge for this generous donation,” said SUNY Purchase  President Thomas J. Schwarz. “We’re very proud of everything Chris has accomplished in the film industry, and grateful for his continuing support of the School of Film and Media Studies and the next generation of film directors, writers, and editors.”

Agustín Zarzosa, chair of Film and Media Studies at SUNY Purchase, said, “The sound stage is a space of historical significance in which our celebrated alumni have shot their first films. Chris Wedge’s generous gift will ensure that our current and future students will have the opportunity to shoot their own films in a state-of-the-art sound stage.”

Wedge said, “When colleges get it right, they produce graduates who are successful in their chosen path. Purchase College set me on my path and because of that I will always have a special affinity for my alma mater. One of the best ways I can demonstrate my loyalty to Purchase is by giving back.  I appreciate the education this school provided for me, and I want to make it possible for students in the future to benefit, too. Thank you, Purchase College!”

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