The new Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy at the University of Southern California will offer a curriculum aimed to help young innovators create the next iPod or Facebook.
The hip-hop mogul best known as Dr. Dre and the co-founder of Interscope Records appeared at a May 15 news conference alongside USC President C. L. Max Nikias to announce the new program funded by a $70 million donation by the two music superstars.
The university president characterized the donation as the largest gift from the entertainment industry to American higher education.
The Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation will provide a special four-year program for undergraduates whose interests span fields from marketing to computer science to visual design and other arts. It will include one-on-one faculty mentoring with professors from programs around the university and interaction with entertainment industry luminaries.
The academy “will be a new standard in higher education,” said its dean and executive director Erica Muhl.
“Somebody is going to design the next iPod, the next Facebook, the next breakthrough in how we live,” she said. “We want that to happen at the Iovine-Young Academy.”
It will accept its first class of 25 students in the fall of 2014. Full scholarships will be offered.
Iovine and Young have been friends, collaborators and business partners for 20 years. Young is best known as a producer, rapper and co-owner of Death Row records. He later started his own record label, Aftermath Entertainment. Iovine is the co-founder of Interscope Records, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M and a mentor on “American Idol.” Together, the two men started Beats Electronics LLC, the parent company of the Beats by Dr. Dre line of popular high-end headphones and other music devices.
HTC Corp. bought a majority share in Beats in 2010, but later sold half of the shares back to the founders. Iovine and Young are now majority owners.
“We’ve been given a lot, and we thought this was a great way to give back by doing this academy,” Young said. “I guess I’m an official Trojan now.”
Iovine, whose daughter Jessica recently graduated from USC, said that among today’s high-school graduates is “a new kid with different skills” that reflect the high-tech and digitally connected world they’ve grown up in.
“This is about treating what a kid is today,” he said. “This place is a dream factory. This place is where you don’t have to get stuck in calculus to succeed at this school. It has other ways through, other paths.”
Young said he would have loved to attend a program like the one he’s establishing at USC rather than developing his business and creative skills on the job. Neither he nor Iovine are college graduates.
“This is an incredible thing for all the youngsters who are trying to do some of the things I’ve done in my career,” Young said.
The two men also offered advice to USC students and graduates, as well as those who’d like to attend their namesake academy.
“You don’t have to be smarter than the next guy; you’ve got to work harder than the next guy,” Iovine said.
Added Young: “Just believe and bet on yourself at all times. And stay determined.”