Projects kickstarted with Weisman Award


Kelly Wenzel

The Portfolio Center, 623 S. Wabash Ave., gave the 2015 Weisman Award to 15 winners. Each recipient is given $2,000 as support to fund and finish current projects.

By Senior Campus Reporter

Fifteen Columbia students were named recipients on Feb. 6 of the annual prestigious Weisman Award, a financial assistance award given to fund media projects.

The recipients included both graduate and upper-level undergraduate students. The program was founded in 1974 by friends of Columbia trustee and advertising executive Albert P. Weisman after he died that year. Each recipient receives $2,000 over the course of a semester to complete a project. According to Weston Morris, production coordinator of the Portfolio Center, that has included films, videos, photography, music and other forms of media.

“[Judges] look for high-caliber, realistic goals,” Morris said. “The judges we bring in to review the applicants are looking for projects that will really push the envelope and also for projects that are going to continue onward after the actual schooling year is over.”

Applicants applied for the award in the fall and had to be enrolled as an active full- or part-time student during the semester to receive the award, Morris said. Students submitted a list of what additional resources they needed for their project, what they had already completed and their project’s  general goals, he said. A panel of judges consisting of industry professionals and faculty and staff select the winners, he added. 

Dirk Matthews, associate director of the Portfolio Center, said the judges rotate annually based on availability and on the type of projects submitted for consideration.

“[For example] some years we only get one or two fashion applicants and another year we may get 10 fashion applicants,” Matthews said. “We adjust the number of judges after the application is closed to allow for specialization in areas that need to be reviewed.”

The 2015 applicants had a variety of majors and specialties, Matthews said.

“It gets very competitive,” Matthews said. “We’re always very excited about the wide range of projects we get through the Weisman Award.”

The 2015 award winners include Alex Abrahamson, Robert Carnilius, Jonathan Moeller and Tin Nguyen from the Cinema Art + Science Department; Elizabeth Joan Allen and Adrienne Ciskey from the Interdisciplinary Arts Department; Grayson Hugh Bagwell from the Interactive Arts & Media Department; Hannah Batsel from the Interdisciplinary Book & Paper program; Lindsey Borgna, Whit Forrester and Elaine Catherine Miller from the Photography Department; Taylor Edin from the Fine Arts program; Roberto Gutierrez from the Art + Design Department; and Kelsey Hayenga and Matthew K. Robinson from the Business & Entrepreneurship Department. 

“It’s a great award,” Borgna said. “It’s important to want to take your work seriously enough to think that it’s worth applying for an award and to undergo that process and to know that you’re being awarded by a foundation that really cares about your work and presenting it in the best way possible.”

Borgna, a senior photography major, said the award money will fund additional lighting for her project, while Abrahamson, a senior cinema art + science major, said his portion is going toward marketing his film. 

“We knew we wanted to get the film out to a larger group than we had the capability to [do so],” Abrahamson said. “I’m really grateful and thankful for this award. We’re looking forward to getting the film out to everyone.”

Carnilius, a graduate cinema art + science student, said the award allows him to hire help complete his project.

“I’ve taken on so much of a workload that I run the risk of burning out,” Carnilius said. “With the grant, I’m able to make it as great as it is envisioned to be.