Arizona State University is renaming its film school after Hollywood trailblazer and icon Sidney Poitier. According to ASU President Michael Crow, the move is part of the school’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity.
“Arizona State University is deeply committed to the premise of inclusivity, and The Sidney Poitier New American Film School is an extension of that impact in an area of academic pursuit that will be advanced by representation of greater diversity and perspective,” he said via a press release.
Crow added: “What we’re doing here is not just recognizing Sidney Poitier for his lifetime of achievements and his legacy, but naming our New American Film School for a person that embodies that which we strive to be — the matching of excellence and drive and passion with social purpose and social outcomes, all the things his career has stood for.”
The Sidney Poitier New American Film School currently enrolls nearly 700 students. Poitier, who is now 93, became the first actor to win an Academy Award for best actor. He won the Oscar for his role in the 1963 movie Lilies of the Field, which was set and filmed in Arizona. He was also nominated for the same award for the 1958 film The Defiant Ones.
“Sidney Poitier is a national hero and international icon whose talents and character have defined ethical and inclusive filmmaking,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU. “His legacy will serve as a guide and inspiration for our school and the thousands of film students we educate.”
The school naming was revealed during a celebration video that was released Monday (February 1), and featured remarks by many in the ASU community, film industry icons and three of Poitier’s six daughters, a few of which followed his footsteps in the industry.
Beverly Poitier-Henderson said: “It’s fitting that ASU is embracing his work ethic and embracing his commitment to truth and his commitment to the arts and his commitment to education. We’re very happy. He’s very happy.”
Photo: Earl Gibson III/WireImage