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Learning That Makes a Difference

September 2016

Brent Adams Brent Adams, BYU Center of Animation director

Several years ago Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, spoke at Brigham Young University. “It’s amazing to suddenly see that BYU is producing the best in the industry,” he said. “It’s the perception not just at Pixar but also at the other studios that something pretty remarkable is happening here.”

“Catmull was right,” BYU Center for Animation director Brent Adams told members of the Jesse and Amanda Knight Society at their annual on-campus luncheon. “[BYU students’] goodness and high moral standards defy stereotypes and ultimately contribute to their success.”

Adams spoke after President Kevin J Worthen referenced the society’s namesakes (early supporters of the university who established trusts that still bless the university) and thanked society members for their planned support of BYU.

After telling about Catmull’s visit to campus, Adams said that BYU students are making a difference in the media industry. “We are not interested in having our students just get a job,” he said. “We want each student to have a career where they can make an impact.”

BYU students have won 18 student Emmy Awards as well as five student Academy Awards. “Their accomplishments are rooted in the ‘education for eternity’ experience that BYU provides,” Adams said.

He then quoted from a recent address to BYU faculty given by President Worthen: “I hope we can make each of our classrooms a place of inspiring learning, a place in which students become excited about learning and in which that learning leads to revelation.”

Adams ended by thanking the donors. “There is absolutely no way that this program could be as successful—that the students could have this opportunity to go out into the media world and try and change entertainment—without a lot of people who make a lot of sacrifices,” he said. “And when you see the successes of BYU, I hope you take some ownership, because our success would not be possible without you.”

The Jesse and Amanda Knight Society comprises supporters who have made planned gifts to BYU. The society hosts an annual event on campus to recognize the impact its members make at the university. If you have included BYU in your estate plan or would like to know more about the society, please contact David J. Smith with LDS Philanthropies at 801-356-5251 or You can also visit

(Read this additional article about Ed Catmull's speech to BYU students in 2008.)
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