SAIC Announces New MFA Merit Scholarships

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) will award new merit scholarships beginning in the fall of 2013 for students entering its internationally renowned Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program. The Ellen Sandor Scholarships, supported by a $50,000 gift from the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Foundation and an additional promised gift to endow the scholarship fund, will support graduate students in the Department of Art and Technology Studies (ATS) and the Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation (FVNMA).

"The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Foundation demonstrates exciting leadership in our city with this generous gift,” says SAIC President Walter E. Massey. “This contribution will sustain areas of study at SAIC that have an important impact on Chicago and its reputation around the globe. The significant accomplishments sparked by these departments—which have helped create the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park and captured the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, for example—are sure to inspire future achievements made possible by these scholarships."

"This support will help us continue to attract those talented individuals who can meet the significant challenges and potential rewards of graduate studies at SAIC," says Lisa Wainwright, Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

A total of at least $10,000 per year will be awarded to one or more incoming students selected for the Ellen Sandor Scholarships by SAIC’s Office of Admissions. The new merit scholarships join a growing array of support for SAIC students. The Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists, the Goldman Sachs Scholarships, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Scholarships, the John W. Kurtich Travel Scholarships, and the Margot and Thomas Pritzker Scholarship are among the awards established at SAIC since 2010. Of all degree-seeking students at SAIC, 92 percent receive some form of financial aid.

About Richard and Ellen Sandor
Artist Ellen Sandor (SAIC MFA 1975) is a member of SAIC’s Board of Governors and member of its Fashion Committee, a Life Trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago and member of the museum's Committee on Photography, and Chair of SAIC’s Gene Siskel Film Center Advisory Board. She will be honored for Outstanding Leadership on June 15 at the Gene Siskel Film Center's A Summer Soiree with Gwyneth Paltrow for her 10 years of service as Chair. As the Founder of (art)n laboratory, Ellen is also currently an affiliate of eDream, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Ellen has an active studio practice based in Chicago and has exhibited work in galleries and museums throughout the world, including the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; International Center of Photography; Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma; Museum of Jewish Heritage; Museum Victoria, Australia; National Academy of Sciences; U.S. Art in Embassies Program (Germany and Zimbabwe); and Musée Carnavalet, Paris. She recently received the Thomas R. Leavens Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts through Lawyers for the Creative Arts. She is currently co-editing a book that chronicles the oral history of pioneering new media women artists and is formalizing a panel discussion surrounding this book with SAIC faculty members Claudia Hart and Tiffany Holmes.

Richard Sandor, PhD, also on the SAIC Board of Governors, is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Environmental Financial Products LLC (EFP), which specializes in inventing, designing, and developing new financial markets. EFP was established in 1998, and was the predecessor company and incubator to the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the European Climate Exchange (ECX), and the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange (CCFE). While on sabbatical from the University of California, Berkeley in the early 1970s, he served as vice president and chief economist of the Chicago Board of Trade. It was at that time that he earned the reputation as the principal architect of the interest-rate futures market. Richard was honored by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Board of Trade for his contribution to the creation of financial futures and was named one of Time magazine's "Heroes of the Environment" in October 2007 for his work as the "father of carbon trading." He is a lecturer in Law and Economics at the University of Chicago Law School, a visiting fellow with the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, and a distinguished professor of environmental finance at Guanghua School of Management at Peking University as well as a member of Guanghua's International Advisory Council. In 2012, Richard authored Good Derivatives: A Story of Financial and Environmental Innovation. The book is in its second printing and will be published in Chinese by People's Oriental Press this summer.

Richard and Ellen Sandor will be celebrating 50 years of marriage on June 27, 2013. They have been residents of Chicago since 1972. Ellen and Richard have two daughters: Julie Sandor, married to Jack Ludden (SAIC MFA 1996); Penya Sandor, married to Eric Taub; and, four grandchildren: Caleb, Oscar, Elijah, and Justine.

About the Department of Art and Technology Studies
Faculty and students in Art and Technology Studies not only create new aesthetic experiences, but often the very tools and processes with which they are achieved. Through the department’s innovative curriculum, creating and manipulating objects, images, sound, text, music, voice, and movement are explored in tandem with custom-written software, emerging materials, unconventional processes, and new methods of integration with other technologies and fields of practice.

About the Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation
The Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department (FVNMA) at SAIC endorses and encourages experimentation with radical form and content. The curriculum and faculty are open to many approaches to and understandings of experimental media art and are committed to deep interdisciplinarity across a broad spectrum, including: cinema, digital video, time-based installation, and new media. The department consists of theory practitioners for these art forms in all their contemporary venues: the museum, gallery, Internet, festival, cinematheque, street, microcinema, music club, mobile device, performance site, and public, community-based projects.

A leader in educating artists, designers, and scholars since 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers nationally accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees and post-baccalaureate programs to more than 3,200 students from around the globe. SAIC also provides adults, high school students, and children with the opportunity to flourish in a variety of courses, workshops, certificate programs, and camps through its Continuing Studies program. Located in the heart of Chicago, SAIC has an educational philosophy built upon an interdisciplinary approach to art and design, giving students unparalleled opportunities to develop their creative and critical abilities, while working with renowned faculty who include many of the leading practitioners in their fields. SAIC's resources include the Art Institute of Chicago and its new Modern Wing; numerous special collections and programming venues provide students with exceptional exhibitions, screenings, lectures, and performances. For more information, please visit

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Julie, Ellen, Richard, and Penya Sandor. Photo by Francis Son.

Press/Media contact

Bree Witt
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