25th Anniversary of James B. Pendleton’s Endowment

By Danica Fisher ’05, April 9, 2021
Providing support to students and faculty.

On April 8, Ithaca College celebrated the 25th anniversary of James B. Pendleton $17 million gift to the Roy H. Park School of Communications with a virtual event featuring past recipients of funds from the resulting endowment.  

The Pendleton Endowment provides over $800,000 to the Park School each year, supporting the college’s Los Angeles program, the Park School's annual technology upgrades, two endowed professorships, $125,000 in student scholarship awards, and nearly $75,000 for student, faculty and staff projects. 

In attendance at the event was Jack Powers, interim dean of the Park School of Communications; and former Deans Tom Bohn and Diane Gayeski. The event also included Pendleton grant recipients Mike Royce ’86, Cathy Crane and Tara Eng ’20. 

“As students, the experiences we've lived in the past year would have been absolutely unimaginable without the Pendleton grant support. The grant was an investment in me as a student filmmaker, but it's truly a grant that has made this earliest part of my career possible.” 

Tara Eng ’20

Pendleton was an interior designer and antiques dealer with a keen interest in the arts, widely known as the “decorator to the stars.” Pendleton's relationship with Ithaca College began in 1976 when he met then cinema and photography professor Gustav "Skip" Landen while vacationing on the Greek island of Kos. Amid the ruins of an ancient amphitheater, the American tourists discovered a mutual interest in education and the dramatic arts.  

Dean Bohn

Former Dean Tom Bohn of the Park School of Communications.

Landen's proposal led to the James Pendleton Award in Dramatic Filmmaking, a competitive cash prize presented annually to a junior to assist in production of a film. Bohn, who was dean at the time, used money from that annual gift to create an endowment, supplementing the money given to the student with funds from his discretionary account.   

Upon his death in 1995 Pendleton left the school a $17 million gift— the largest gift ever given to the college by an individual —which was then later turned into an additional endowment. 

“All from a chance meeting in Greece, with Skip Landon, and a 15-year personal friendship forged from the single act of saying thank you,” said Bohn. “A thank you, with no strings attached, no expectations, no quid pro quo. Just simply, thank you. The legacy of Jimmy's gift in the Park School is huge and multifaceted, but at its heart it has enabled the school to educate, to celebrate and to illuminate the field of communications in all its forms.” 

Mike Royce

Mike Royce ’86.

Mike Royce ’86 studied cinema and photography and was among the first recipients of the early Pendleton grant and was at the celebration to talk about his experience at IC. 

“When I was a film student, I definitely suffered from imposter syndrome, feeling like I wasn’t good enough to actually work in movies and TV,” he said. “I’m saying that because when I became a recipient of the Pendleton grant, it was incredibly validating and meant somebody believed in me and that I was good.” 

Royce worked as a staff writer on the Emmy Award winning show “Everybody Loves Raymond,” where he worked his way up to the role of executive producer for the last two seasons. His other credits include television shows “Lucky Louie,” “Men of a Certain Age,” “1600 Penn,” and “Enlisted.” Most recently, Royce worked as an executive producer and showrunner on the “One Day at a Time” reboot. 

“IC fixed in me the idea to always be learning,” said Royce. “The bottom line, is I’m super proud to be an IC grad.” 

Associate professor Cathy Crane has been a recipient of the Pendleton grant multiple times. Crane has created a body of work in experimental historical documentary, most recently on a documentary on the border called “Crossing Columbus,” which has been supported by the Pendleton grant, both in its early stages of research and as recently as last academic year. 

“Being able to focus on historical material is actually the very center of my work and has absolutely been extraordinary and significant to enjoy the support and generosity of a stranger,” said Crane. “I wish I had known James Pendleton; I feel like I have been able to blossom as a filmmaker over the course of the last 18 years here at Ithaca College with that support.” 

Tara Eng

Tara Eng ’20.

Tara Eng ’20 is a new voice in the documentary space as a producer and impact strategist. Her first documentary short, “On the Fenceline: A Fight for Clean Air,” premiered internationally at the 2020 Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival before screening at festivals across the U.S., including at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington D.C., the world's largest environmental film festival. The Pendleton grant helped Eng during the process of making the documentary. 

Eng describes the impact of the Pendelton grant as measurable, as they were able to continue filming after the fall semester, into the spring, before the pandemic hit. 

“We captured moments that tied together the threads that we started spinning in the fall; we attended community gatherings and city council hearings and witnessed really powerful moments of action and resilience,” said Eng. “We had the time and resources to deeply engage with city politics through the eyes of residents as activists, neighbors, individuals and parents, which was a really critical understanding of the urgency and stakes of their movement that really translated to the editing room.” 

Eng said that the Pendleton grant was something to celebrate in a time when things were difficult. 

“As students, the experiences we've lived in the past year would have been absolutely unimaginable without the Pendleton grant support,” said Eng. “The grant was an investment in me as a student filmmaker, but it's truly a grant that has made this earliest part of my career possible.”