He’s been the producer of movies that have earned 50 Academy Award nominations. A longtime Hollywood executive, he’s the chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment. And he’s a part owner of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors and the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Peter Guber has enjoyed a successful and multifaceted career, earning numerous accolades along the way.
But his life has always been about more than just achievement. For more than 40 years, Guber has taught highly popular classes at UCLA — in both the School of Theater, Film and Television, and the Anderson School of Management.
“Peter is as passionate about his teaching as he is every other aspect of his career,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said before presenting Guber with the UCLA Medal at a Dec. 4 ceremony at the Chancellor’s Residence.
“It’s clear that he values the opportunity to contribute and prepare the next generation for success — whether it’s in entertainment, sports or any number of other industries. His commitment is evident in the fact that, despite all he’s worked on throughout his career, Peter has never — to anyone’s knowledge — missed a year of teaching.”
That dedication, Block noted, was recognized by Gov. Jerry Brown last summer, when he appointed Guber to a 12-year term on the University of California Board of Regents.
During his remarks, Guber said he considered it a gift to be able to help and mentor students. “The way they learn, the way they ask questions — when you see you can touch people, it can change your life,” he said. “They get so much from it. Sharing with them, their journey, the joys of their journey, we’re fostering them to be curious. For me to be able to be part of that is a great honor. I dedicate myself to the years ahead to do even better.”
Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, praised Guber for his service and leadership.
“I could not be more proud or thrilled for Peter Guber, who has been a long-time friend, mentor, supporter, faculty member and executive board member at TFT,” she said. “He has galvanized and inspired students in his amazing classes and has been a groundbreaking leader across the entertainment industry. The UCLA Medal represents the highest honor one can receive at UCLA and I could not think of anyone more deserving than Peter to receive this distinguished award and great honor.
“All of us at TFT congratulate Peter and wish him continued success in all that he undertakes both at UCLA and in his illustrious career.”
Guber’s generosity and leadership have been felt beyond UCLA TFT; he is also a founding member and the chair of the board of advisors for the UCLA Anderson Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment and Sports. He has previously served as a member of the UCLA Foundation Board of Trustees.
“Peter Guber is extraordinarily deserving of the UCLA Medal, the most prestigious honor our university bestows,” said Judy Olian, the Anderson School’s dean and holder of the John E. Anderson Chair in Management. “Peter has been a trailblazer in entertainment, sports and business, with a string of successes that few achieve in one, let alone multiple fields. Remarkably, throughout his very hectic professional career, he has always taught at UCLA. With his hunger for lifelong learning, his intellectual curiosity, broad knowledge of business and entertainment, and infectious enthusiasm, he has impacted generations of young people.
“We are so lucky that Peter's passion for education has been directed toward UCLA, and I am thrilled that he is being recognized with this special honor.”
Following the medal presentation, the two deans led a Q&A with Guber; Schwartz asked which of his films meant the most to him.
Speaking about the 1988 movie “Gorillas in the Mist,” Guber recounted that he literally had to lie down in Terry Semel’s office until the Warner Bros. co-chairman agreed to make the movie.
“You have to have a vision that’s compelling and you have to commit to it,” Guber said. “I did … and the gorillas were saved by the film.”
Olian, who co-teaches a leadership class with Guber, asked about his involvement with sports franchises.
“You have to be able to cope with loss because you’re going to lose a lot,” Guber said. “Failure and success are this close together and unless you can cope with that, it’s very hard to navigate the waters. Failure is an inevitable cul-de-sac on the road to success.”
In a separate ceremony, Loretta Jones, founder of Healthy African American Families, also received a UCLA Medal on Dec. 4.
The UCLA Medal was established in 1979 and is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by UCLA. It is awarded to those who have earned academic and professional acclaim, and whose work demonstrates the highest ideals of UCLA. Past recipients include entertainment luminaries Samuel Goldwyn, Rob Reiner, David Geffen and Francis Ford Coppola, as well as writer Toni Morrison, President Bill Clinton, architect I.M. Pei, UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun and UCLA alumna and astronaut Anna Lee Fisher.