News and Events
John Lasseter Addresses Graduating Class at Seaver College Commencement Ceremony
The Frank R. Seaver College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences will hold its 2009 commencement ceremony at Alumni Park on Saturday, May. 2, at 10:30 a.m. on the Malibu campus. John Lasseter, director (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Cars) and chief creative officer for Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, will address the graduates. Sam Schmidt ('86, MBA '87), former Indy Racing League driver, founder of Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (paralysis-related research funding and student scholarships) and Sam Schmidt Motorsports (auto racing team), will be honored as the Distinguished Alumnus.
About John Lasseter
John Lasseter is chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and principal creative advisor of Walt Disney Imagineering. He currently oversees all Pixar and Disney films and their associated projects. He was the director for the critically acclaimed and groundbreaking computer-animated films Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Toy Story 2, and in 2006 he was also the director for the film Cars. He has also served as the executive producer for the films Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles.
Lasseter served as the creative director of Pixar prior to its 2006 merger with Disney and saw the 2004 film The Incredibles to its award-winning success. He has written, directed, and animated many of Pixar's short films and commercials. Prior to his tenure with Pixar, Lasseter was a member of the computer division of Lucasfilm Ltd., and had been previously worked as an animator at Disney.
A pioneer in developing the art and science of computer-generated animation, Lasseter is widely respected and honored in the animation and film industries. In 2004 he received the Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award from the Art Directors Guild. In 1988 he received the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for Tin Toy, and in 1995 he received a Special Achievement Oscar for his leadership of the Toy Story team.
Lasseter is a trustee of the Lasseter Family Foundation, which supports numerous charitable causes including education, health care, and the arts.
Lasseter earned his bachelor of fine arts in 1979 from California Institute of the Arts through their inaugural character animation program, and in 2004 he was awarded an honorary degree from the American Film Institute.
John Lasseter is the son of Jewell Risley Lasseter, alumna of George Pepperdine College Class of 1945. He resides with his wife Nancy in Sonoma, California.
About Sam Schmidt
Samuel "Sam" D. Schmidt is founder of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation and a former Indy Racing League driver. He embarked on a professional racing career in 1992. He eventually attained the 1993 Sports Car Club of America National Championship, progressing to a 1997 first Indy start, and a 1999 Pole Position victory in the Vegas.com 500.
In 2000 during a practice round he sustained a spinal cord injury, which rendered him quadriplegic. Schmidt continues his recovery, which he credits to his faith in God and the support of his family. He established the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation to assist those less fortunate than himself, which funds research for spinal cord injuries, provides scholarships for students with paralysis, and advocates for the disabled.
Fourteen months after his disabling accident Schmidt founded Sam Schmidt Motorsports, a professional auto racing team which, in 2004, captured the Menard's Infiniti Pro Series Championship. To date the team has 27 victories and three championships. Schmidt is also president of Performance Enterprises. Prior to racing full-time, he served at Paracelsus Healthcare, attaining the rank of hospital administrator at age 24.
Among his many honors, Schmidt has received the Visionary Leadership Award from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Humanitarian Award from the Las Vegas Walk of Stars Foundation. He sits on the boards of the Desert Canyon Rehabilitation Center and Speedway Children's Charities.
Schmidt received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Seaver College in 1986, and his MBA in international finance from the Pepperdine University graduate business school in 1987. He is a member of the Seaver College Board of Visitors, is a Pepperdine Associate and has been a Pepperdine Management Partner.
Sam Schmidt resides with his wife Sheila, a 1987 Seaver College alumna, in Henderson, Nevada.