April 23, 2009

Eberts donate $1M to U. of Illinois

Roger Ebert and his wife Chaz have donated $1 million to his alma mater, the University of Illinois, the famed film critic announced.

The Chicago Tribune said the Chicago Sun-Times film reviewer's gift will go toward establishing the Roger Ebert Program for Film Studies Fund. The donation was announced during the 11th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival in Champaign, which is organized by the university's College of Media.

The University of Illinois is deep in my heart as a great institution, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former TV personality said in a statement. It informed and enriched me. Although there were no film courses when I was an undergraduate, it nevertheless guided me in my lifelong love of film. I hope when this program and center are fully realized, they will inspire new generations.

Ebert, 66, has battled cancer in recent years and lost the power to speak in 2006. He continues to write columns and reviews, however.

The Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette said a plaque was unveiled in his honor Wednesday on the sidewalk in front of his childhood home in Urbana, Ill.

Ebert, his former neighbors and classmates, as well as fans, friends and city officials turned out for the dedication ceremony, the newspaper said.