Sears picks up bill

By Samuel Charles

Columbia’s Television Department Scholarship fund received a boost from Sears department store as a sign of thanks for students helping the company to produce a competitive cooking show. The company donated $10,000 which will go directly to the Sharon Palermo Scholarship Fund. The scholarship annually awards $4,000 to a senior in the Television Department based on professional potential and commitment.

Students helped put on the semi-finals and finals of “Sears Chef Challenge.” The 20 television majors involved helped shoot, direct and produce the show.

“It’s the No. 1 scholarship fund in the department we work to raise money for,” said Michael Niederman, chair of the Television Department.

Those who worked on the program were given the same responsibilities they would experience in the industry.

“Our kids were brought in like any professional crew would be, to handle the production and the directing,” Niederman said.

Television majors involved worked on the show on Oct. 21 and Nov. 4. The two recordings included the semi-finals and finals of the competition.

This was the first time students in the department worked on a live broadcast for a major client. They used the college’s high definition remote truck to broadcast the show live on the Internet.

A representative from Sears’ marketing department, who graduated from Columbia, approached the Television Department asking if it would be interested in helping to produce the program.

“He had been in the department and knew what a great job the students would do,” said Erin Purdy, external relations coordinator for the Television Department.

The scholarship fund is set up through the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Lucas Palermo, founder of the scholarship and an associate professor in the Television Department, is a member of the chapter’s board of governors.

Palermo created the scholarship in 2006 in memory of his late wife.

Though the scholarship is set up through NATAS, it is only offered to Columbia’s senior television students.

“[The donation] allows the scholarship to be endowed,” Palermo said. “It’shere forever.”

There are three scholarships awarded in the Television Department each year.

The Edward L. and Marsha E. Morris Scholarship amounts to $3,000. The Irv Kupcinet Media Arts Scholarship—which is also available to journalism and radio majors—totals $2,250. Forty-three percent of all scholarship money awarded to the Television Department is from the Sharon Palermo Scholarship Fund.

“[The scholarship] is great because students, who are doing internships that might not be paid or participating in Semester in L.A., can continue with those additional activities and still focus on their schoolwork and not have to work on other jobs,” Purdy said.

According to Purdy, the Television Department may be working with Sears again in the future.

“It looks like there might be some more projects on the horizon with Sears,” Purdy said. “Nothing is set in stone yet, but [Sears] has been talking to [the Television Department] about possibly working on the same project next year.”