LA MIRADA, CALIF. — Biola University will name its top-ranked film school the Snyder School of Cinema & Media Arts in tribute to Esther L. Snyder, co-founder of In-N-Out Burger. The unanimous decision by the Biola Board of Trustees was made to honor the Snyder family for a significant financial gift committed to the school as well as their legacy of godly virtues.
“Our family values the distinctly Christian education Biola University offers and are honored to play a part in continuing to offer students opportunities to make really impactful film pieces that change people’s lives,” said Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson, granddaughter of Esther L. Snyder and current owner and president of In-N-Out Burger. “God is a huge part of the In-N-Out story, and I have no doubt my grandmother would be grateful to know her name is associated with a school recognized for excellence in craft and character.”
Esther L. Snyder adored students at universities like Biola and she made a way for countless men and women to receive a faith-based education. She was committed to the Scriptures and wanted the love of God to spread through her life and company. Thousands of In-N-Out Burger customers each day are reminded of these priorities each time they read the Bible verses printed on company cups, bags and fry boats. On these paper products diners are directed to verses such as John 3:16, Proverbs 3:5, Revelation 3:20 and Nahum 1:7.
An appreciation for entertainment and a creative spirit run deep with the Snyder family. Esther L. Snyder’s eldest son Guy embodied a love for music. Her son Rich often edited home videos and founded In-N-Out Burger’s own Burger TV, which is used to communicate with its associates to this day. Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson has a love for both music and filmmaking. She believes lives can be deeply impacted through the arts and continues the tradition of using music and film throughout In-N-Out Burger.
“I have been inspired through my conversations with Lynsi Snyder-Ellingson, hearing stories of her family and particularly her beloved grandmother,” said Biola President Dr. Barry H. Corey. “This naming of the Snyder School and the inspirational vision of Mrs. Esther Snyder will be a testimony to students and alumni for generations that humility in leadership, Christlike love of others, entrepreneurial tenacity and upright business principles are virtues worth living. Biola University is today honored to extend the legacy of Esther L. Snyder’s life and work, along with the entire Snyder family, through the naming of the Snyder School of Cinema & Media Arts.”
The gift, which is the largest in the school’s 115-year history, will be allocated toward the construction of a 52,100 square-foot studio facility for the film school and will be used to establish a new scholarship — the In-N-Out Burger Scholars Fund. This expendable scholarship will help make it possible for foster and at-risk youth to study in the Snyder School.
This donation will provide an opportunity for more students to study cinema and media arts at Biola where craft and character matter.
“As Biola’s fastest growing school, this incredible gift will dramatically improve our School of Cinema & Media Arts’ already strong academic program for students, as well as help accommodate our significant enrollment growth,” said Founding Dean and industry veteran Tom Halleen. “We talk a lot about being more than just a film school. We’re not only committed to equipping students with the professional skills required by the industry, but we also prioritize excellence in character. We want our students to be great at what they do, but also great in who they are as we prepare them to tell their stories across all the screens we use in everyday life: the movie screen, TV screen, computer screen, and their device’s screen.”
The $92 million state-of-the-art studio will add to Biola’s existing production facilities, including a third soundstage along with additional edit suites, production offices, motion capture, Foley and scoring stages, mixing rooms, color correction lab, classrooms, faculty and staff offices and a full theater for screenings as well as to host industry lectures, forums and other live events. The facility is designed to house all aspects of the production process from ideation through final presentation.
Biola’s Snyder School of Cinema & Media Arts started as a school in 2018, though as a program it dates back for decades. It has been ranked as one of the top film schools in the nation by multiple industry-leading sources, including for the past six years by Variety, and also by The Wrap and MovieMaker Magazine.
Biola plans to break ground and begin construction on the two-plus year building project in October 2023, aligning with In-N-Out’s 75th anniversary, which will be celebrated with a festival at the In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip on October 22.