George Lucas was already a rich man before Tuesday's surprise announcement that Disney was buying Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05 billion
. In September, Forbes estimated the 69-year-old's net worth at $3.3 billion. Add in the fact that he owns 100 percent of Lucasfilm, and you're looking at a billionaire who is now in an even more prominent position to make a lasting impact on the world beyond his celebrated films.
Of course, charity isn't something that's foreign to Lucas. He not only chairs the massive George Lucas Educational Foundation
(which in 2006 gave $175 million to his alma mater, USC), but he has also been one of the big names to sign Bill Gates' and Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge, which commits participants "to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death."
"We need to build new foundations, fostering independent thought and a desire to keep learning," Lucas wrote
in designating education as one focus of his charitable giving. "Our students need to come away with more than just survival skills, and more than just what is required to complete the program. We need to promote critical thinking and emotional intelligence. We need to focus on building an education system that promotes different types of learning, different types of development, and different types of assessment. We have an opportunity and an obligation to prepare our children for the real world, for dealing with others in practical, project-based environments. It’s about working together and building character — being compassionate, empathetic and civil as a means to a greater end.
"I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education. It is the key to the survival of the human race. We have to plan for our collective future — and the first step begins with the social, emotional and intellectual tools we provide to our children. As humans, our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think and to adapt — as educators, storytellers and communicators our responsibility is to continue to do so."
More 'Star Wars' stories on MNN: