Dr. Dre, whose given name is Andre Young, and music mogul Jimmy Iovine are donating $70 million to USC for a new academy that they say will give students the tools they need to break into the rapidly changing music industry.
“The vision and generosity of Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young will profoundly influence the way all of us perceive and experience artistic media,” USC President C.L. Max Nikias said in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure that the academy is the most collaborative educational program in the world.”
An unspecified portion of the $70-million donation will go toward construction of facilities that will house the academy. Students, who can earn an undergraduate degree from the academy, will use existing facilities while new ones are being built.
The four-year program will feature four core curriculum areas: arts and entrepreneurship; technology, design and marketability; concept and business platform; and creating a prototype. It aims to foster entrepreneurship that brings students’ entertainment, technology and business skills into play. Instruction will involve engineering, computer science, fine arts, graphic design, business and leadership training.
That training will come from faculty at USC’s Thornton School of Music, Roski School of Fine Arts, Marshall School of Business and Viterbi School of Engineering, as well as “industry icons and innovators as visiting faculty and guest speakers,” according to USC’s statement.
“Academy students will have the freedom to move easily from classroom to lab, from studio to workshop individually or in groups, and blow past any academic or structural barriers to spontaneous creativity,” Erica Muhl, dean of the fine arts school, said in a statement. Muhl will serve as the first director of the new academy.
The outline of the program appears to create an academic counterpart to the street-smart path Iovine and Young have traveled in building their careers.
Dr. Dre and Young first came to fame as a member of the Compton hard-core rap group N.W.A and went on to become one of hip-hop’s most respected performers and producers, mentoring Eminem as well as 50 Cent, the Game and other rappers.
Before Iovine founded Interscope Records in 1990, he also was an in-demand producer and engineer for hit recordings by John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and other rock and pop acts. At Interscope, which became Interscope Geffen A&M Records, of which he is now chairman, Iovine has been at the helm of the label behind such music-world successes as U2, the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga. Iovine remains a co-owner of Interscope with its parent company, Universal Music Group.