Rochester Community and Technical College has received a $75,000 gift from the charitable trust of a late Hollywood screenwriter who worked on such blockbusters as "Top Gun" and "Batman."
The donation will be used to fund scholarships for students with financial need, with the neediest students receiving full rides starting this summer.
Warren Skaaren, a Rochester native, graduated from what was then Rochester State Junior College in 1966 and went on to carve out a successful Hollywood career as a screen writer and executive producer.
During the 1980s, he gained a reputation as one of the country's top "script doctors," taking over troubled scripts and rewriting them. In addition to "Top Gun" and "Batman," he was also best known for rewriting "Beetlejuice" and "Beverly Hills Cop 2." The four films together grossed more than $1 billion.
Although Skaaren made his mark in Hollywood, he lived in Austin, Texas, rather than Southern California. Even as his star rose in Hollywood, Skaaren stayed connected with the Rochester college and his long-time mentor Robert Wise, an associate dean of students at RCC.
Skaaren died of malignant melanoma in 1990 at age 44.
"Warren Skaaren always spoke about how important his years were at RCTC and of the many ways he benefited from the mentoring he received from Dean Robert Wise," said Amon Burton, trustee of the Warren Skaaren Charitable Trust. "The trust that Warren created is now funding Skaaren Scholarships so other students can benefit from his successful motion picture career."
The gift is the biggest non-endowed scholarship amount received by the RCTC Foundation, with $30,000 to be awarded this summer for financially needy students, said RCTC spokesperson Nate Stoltman. The Skaaren Trust has also pledged $25,000 and $20,000 for 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 respectively, and the hope is "to maintain the relationship beyond this three-year gift, creating an ongoing legacy here at the college," Stoltman said.
Interested students may begin applying for scholarships beginning today. All applications must be completed via the college's online portal on or before June 18. Students in need of assistance with completing the application can attend one of two virtual scholarship workshops with RCTC Foundation staff -- at 3 p.m. May 19 and 3 p.m. June 15. Students can RSVP by emailing email@example.com.