Sherry Lansing to Speak at Commencement

Sherry Lansing, CEO of The Sherry Lansing Foundation and former chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, will be the featured speaker at Occidental College’s 127th graduation ceremony on May 17.


The 10 a.m. ceremony will be held in the Remsen Bird Hillside Theater on the Occidental campus.

Throughout her 30-year film career, Lansing earned a reputation as a trailblazing leader and creative filmmaker. In 1984, she became the first woman to head a major film studio when she was appointed president of 20th Century Fox. Later, as an independent producer, Lansing was responsible for such successful films as Fatal Attraction, School Ties, Indecent Proposal, Black Rain, and The Accused. Returning to the executive ranks in 1992, she was named head of Paramount Pictures and began an unprecedented tenure that lasted more than 12 years (1992-2005). Films produced and released by Paramount during Lansing’s tenure include Academy Award winners Forrest Gump, Braveheart, and the highest grossing movie of all time, Titanic.

The Sherry Lansing Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to cancer research and public education, was formed in 2005. Among the foundation’s initiatives is PrimeTime LAUSD, a partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District designed to engage retirees in improving the state of public education through targeted volunteerism.

Although best known as a studio executive, Lansing also spent four years after college teaching high school English and math at public schools throughout the Los Angeles area. This experience, coupled with Lansing's long-held belief in the power of education to create lasting social change, has made education a major focus of her foundation. In 2007, she founded the EnCorps Teachers Project – an innovative, public-private partnership that engages retired – or soon to retire – science, technology, engineering, and math professionals in filling California’s urgent need for qualified math and science teachers.

Lansing is a Regent of the University of California and serves as chair of the University Health Services Committee. She also serves on Gov. Schwarzenegger's Committee on Education Excellence and on the California State Superintendent of Education's P-16 Council. In addition, she sits on the boards of the American Association for Cancer Research, The Carter Center, Civic Ventures, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the Lasker Foundation, and Teach for America.

In December 2004, Lansing was appointed to the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. CIRM was established by California's groundbreaking ballot measure, Proposition 71, which provides $3 billion in funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Lansing is also a co-founder of Stand Up to Cancer – an initiative which funds collaborative, multi-institutional cancer research "dream teams," and STOP CANCER – a nonprofit organization which she launched in partnership with the late Dr. Armand Hammer. In addition, Lansing serves on the executive committee of the board of directors of Friends of Cancer Research and is a co-founder of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles Future Fund.

Lansing graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science degree from Northwestern University in 1966. She is the first cousin, once removed, of Margot Seigle ’09.