Professor Emeritus Paul Stekler continues to support UT

New Mindy and Burton Stekler Fund for student nonfiction films
stekler fund

Documentaries can reveal hidden worlds and shed light on important aspects of our communities and environment. 

At UT Austin, we have a long tradition of supporting outstanding documentary filmmaking. However, every aspect of filmmaking requires financial resources—from travel and feeding the crew to creating and mixing soundtracks, from visual effects and purchasing archival footage, to applying to festivals where the films can connect with audiences.

Radio-Television-Film students engaged in making documentary films as part of their coursework will soon benefit from the newly created Mindy and Burton Stekler Endowed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers, which was borne out of the passionate and unwavering commitment of former RTF department chair and professor Paul Stekler, who even after retiring from the university in 2022, continues to support UT film students. Professor Emeritus Stekler has endowed the Mindy and Burton Stekler Fund, which he established in the name of his parents, Mindy and Burton Stekler, to help fund nonfiction student projects.

We are looking to our community to help us expand this generous gift and its impact on our students.
Support UTRTF documentary students.

"The gift named after Professor Emeritus Paul Stekler’s parents will continue Paul’s remarkable dedication not only to the documentary community but most importantly to our RTF students.  This legacy will impact future generations of filmmakers. On behalf of the entire RTF Department, we are extremely moved and grateful for this generous gift."  
–Cindy McCreery, RTF Interim Chair

Stekler's parents, Dr. Burton Stekler and his wife Mindy, met as members of the Jewish medical and nursing students’ organizations at NYU and Bellevue Hospital. Dr. Stekler, a popular family pediatrician, inspired well over a hundred of his former patients to become doctors. After Dr. Stekler’s death in 1988, Mrs. Stekler moved to Florida where she was a volunteer nurse at a Catholic Church medical clinic for migrant workers for twenty years. Today, she lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.


Paul Stekler was first recruited to the university in 1997 to help reorganize the RTF production program. Under Stekler’s leadership, the department overhauled its film production and media studies curriculum, completely turned over its faculty, established a new screenwriting MFA program, and secured a steady stream of funding for equipment and facilities. Stekler also taught documentary production to hundreds of students. In 2014, Variety magazine named Stekler “Mentor of the Year.” 

In addition to his role with RTF, Stekler is also a nationally recognized documentary filmmaker: his films have won two George Foster Peabody Awards, three Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Awards, three national Emmy Awards, and a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Upon his retirement, the Austin Chronicle published Stekler’s farewell to the program.

“I can’t imagine a better job than the one I got teaching at and helping to run UT’s RTF program. For over twenty-five years, I was inspired by the documentary work my students did, telling stories that reflected the diversity of their life experiences. This fund is the least I can do to help them and honor a film program that I loved.”  
– Paul Stekler, Professor Emeritus


Elana Wakeman
Sr. Programs and Communications Coordinator