Hip-hop icons are expanding opportunities from the studio to the academy. Dr. Dre has partnered with Jimmy Iovine to open the U.S.C. Jimmy Iovine & Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. Iovine is the chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records and also co-founded Beats Electronic with Dre. Iovine and Dre donated $70 million to USC to create the program.
The Iovine & Young Academy’s aim is to offer USC students “a unique undergraduate experience” that will include coursework in business entrepreneurship, audio and visual design and computer science and engineering.
USC President C.L. Max Nikias is thrilled to bring the program to his institution.
“The vision and generosity of Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young will profoundly influence the way all of us perceive and experience artistic media,” he said when announcing the arrival of the Academy.
He continued, “We are committed to encouraging our students to use their intellectual and creative resources to effect change in all segments of society. Our goal is to ensure that the academy is the most collaborative educational program in the world.”
The program is interdisciplinary, encompassing four principal areas: arts and entrepreneurship; technology, design and marketability; concept and business platforms; and creating a prototype. Since there is no singular focus for the curriculum, faculty will convene from several schools within USC including the USC Marshall School of Business, the Thornton School of Music and the Viterbi School of Engineering.
Erica Muhl will serve as inaugural director of the USC Iovine & Young Academy. She hopes the curriculum empowers students by giving them “powerful tools.”
“The curriculum was created to take full advantage of a newly designed, revolutionary educational space that will offer students very powerful tools,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.
“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.”
The undergraduate program is four-years and will culminate in a year-long experiential project called the “Garage.” It will be similar to incubators at other prestigious universities like Stanford and will require seniors to establish a business prototype.
Iovine hopes this will lead to a technological advancement that will change our lives.
“If the next start-up that becomes Facebook happens to be one of our kids, that’s what we are looking for,” he told the New York Times.
Neither Iovine nor Dre graduated from college, but both decided to endow the university with the $70 million after the success of Beats by Dre. They were searching for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and had no luck. The innovators hope the program will supply them with employees for Beats, especially as they prepare to launch Beats Music, a streaming music service.
Dre sees this as a stepping stone toward something greater. He told the New York Times, “I feel like this is the biggest, most exciting and probably the most important thing that I’ve done in my career.”
The inaugural class of U.S.C.’s Jimmy Iovine & Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation will encompass 25 students in fall 2014.