Film Director, Writer, Producer
Modesto Junior College, California
By Evelyn L. KentCommunity College Times
George Lucas has something in common with community colleges – they both change the landscape of what is possible.
The movie producer, director and writer hardly needs introduction. Since 1973 when “American Graffiti” was an enormous success, America has been familiar with Lucas. “Star Wars” moved that familiarity to intimacy in 1977.
In 1997, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “So many years, so much exposure, so many spin-offs, special-effects trends and continuous warp-speed hype have made it nearly impossible to look at ‘Star Wars’ as just a movie anymore. It remains an icon on the ever-changing pop culture landscape …”
Lucas readily admits that school was not a priority for him. “Frankly, I was not very engaged in my classes; in fact, as a boy, I liked to daydream and write stories,” he writes in the resource book “Edutopia: Success Stories for Learning in the Digital Age.”
Regardless, after a near-fatal car accident, he began his venture into higher education at Modesto Junior College in California where he earned an associate of arts degree in history in 1964.
He earned a bachelor’s from the University of Southern California in 1966 and began making movies. His empire includes the visual effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, formed during the making of “Star Wars,” THX, and Lucasfilms.
In 1992, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences bestowed the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which honors “creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production,” on Lucas.
In addition, in 1999 he received the DigiGlobe Award for his ongoing contribution through culture and entertainment through the use of information technology.
The father of three adopted children, Lucas also is the founder and chairman of the board of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, which focuses on best practices and innovation in primary education. It focuses on project-based learning that stimulates children’s passions and emphasizes well-prepared teachers to improve student learning.
On his Web site, www.glef.org, Lucas says, “Our Foundation documents and disseminates the most exciting classrooms where these innovations are taking place.” The foundation does this through the creation and dissemination of media -- from films, books, and newsletters, to CD-ROMs and DVDs.
He remains active in the Modesto-area community and nationally through his support of children’s charities. In addition, Lucas and his sisters recently gave Modesto Junior College a cash gift to be used toward the construction of an arts center under construction on campus.