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Chris Wedge ’81 and Jeanne Markel ’81 Give Back to Purchase

The Purchase alumni donated funds to renovate the Film Sound Stage.

Academy Award-winning director Chris Wedge ’81 (film) and his wife, Jeanne Markel ’81 (visual arts), recently donated a major gift to the School of Film and Media Studies. Their generous gift will help fund the renovation of the film sound stage in the Music building.

Giving Back, Giving Thanks

The gift honors Wedge’s fondness for Purchase—a place he credits for helping to build the foundation for his enormously successful career.

“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!”

The sound stage is a critical space for film students as they begin to produce their own bodies of work. Agustín Zarzosa, chair of the School of Film and Media Studies says, “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.”

An Animated Career 

As co-founder and vice president of creative development of Blue Sky Studios, FOX, 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.

He started his career in computer animation at MAGI/Synthavision, where he animated key sequences for the 1982 cult classic, TRON. Wedge also holds an MA in Computer Graphics/Art Education from Ohio State University’s Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design. In pursuit of his graduate degree 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® in the category Best Animated Feature Film) 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.

In 2009, Wedge was given the Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award from Purchase College, and he served on the honorary committee for the Purchase College Arts Gala in 2012.

Return to Campus

On January 26, 2016, Wedge came to Purchase College to speak about his life as a student and his career journey. Professor of Film Iris Cahn ’76 (film) moderated the talk.

“On behalf of the college, I thank Chris Wedge for this generous donation,” says 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.”

Wedge and Markel currently live in Katonah, NY. Markel is a painter and graphic designer.