Entrepreneurs and music industry icons Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre (Andre Young), already known as forward-thinking visionaries in music and business, are giving $70 million to the University of Southern California to create a unique undergraduate experience.
The duo’s gift will establish the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, an exceptional environment for those rare undergraduate students whose interests span fields such as marketing, business entrepreneurship, computer science and engineering, audio and visual design and the arts. This program will prepare them to become a new generation of inspired innovators.
The goal of the academy is to shape the future by nurturing the talents, passions, leadership and risk-taking of uniquely qualified students who challenge conventional views of art and industry. The academy will attract students who are motivated to explore and create new art forms, technologies and business models — and who will benefit from a stimulating environment that fosters exploration and discovery beyond traditional educational and disciplinary boundaries.
“The vision and generosity of Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young will profoundly influence the way all of us perceive and experience artistic media,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “USC provides an extraordinarily rich academic, research and artistic environment. 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.”
To meet student interests and to meld inspiration with education, the academy’s specially designed new courses will provide students with a solid background in the integration of technology with all aspects of creativity along with a thorough understanding of existing and potential business, marketing and distribution strategies.
Drawing on the expertise of top faculty from the USC Marshall School of Business, Roski School of Fine Arts, Viterbi School of Engineering and Thornton School of Music, the academy also will host industry icons and innovators as visiting faculty and guest speakers. It will offer a highly select group of students an integrated, four‑year course of study that will provide in-depth learning in, engineering and computer science, fine arts and graphic design, business and leadership models. Team-taught interdisciplinary courses will be developed and adapted specifically for the program.
The Iovine and Young Academy will focus on four core curriculum areas: Arts and Entrepreneurship; Technology, Design and Marketability; Concept and Business Platforms; and Creating a Prototype.
The four-year academic program will include one-on-one faculty mentoring, opportunities to interact with luminaries from the arts and entertainment industry serving as guest speakers and lecturers, and a broad array of internship opportunities for students.
During their fourth and final year, academy students will take up residence in a uniquely designed experiential setting, the “Garage.” Grouped into self-directed teams, which may include non-academy students from across the university, these students will determine a project that can be developed into a prototype over the course of the year.
Appropriate faculty members, other artists and business leaders will serve as mentors to each group, and venture capitalists and other real-world experts will be introduced to give students advice and direction. All of these elements will combine into one extraordinary educational experience, where working together, students will challenge one another to take even greater risks in innovation.
"Flexibility is a hallmark of USC, and the academy’s curriculum is incredibly adaptive," said Erica Muhl, dean of the USC Roski School of Fine Arts, who will serve as inaugural director of the USC Iovine & Young Academy. "The curriculum was created to take full advantage of a newly designed, revolutionary educational space that will offer students very powerful tools. 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 academy’s core education will create a common, multi-lingual literacy and fluency across essential disciplines. This ‘big picture’ knowledge and skill will equip graduates with a leadership perspective that is unparalleled in an undergraduate degree, and that will be applicable to virtually any industry," said Muhl.
USC’s strategic location in Los Angeles, widely viewed as the creative and media capital of the world, provides an unrivaled opportunity for students to take advantage of a living laboratory where music, film and visual arts are deeply intertwined. In addition, the university’s proximity to the city’s burgeoning “Silicon Beach” as well as Northern California’s Silicon Valley provides access to a vast array of technological advances from which students can draw inspiration.
The academy will enroll its first class of 25 students in fall 2014. Applicants will be accepted based on a rigorous review process encompassing demonstrated academic excellence as well as proven ability for original thought. Students who complete a course of study in the academy will graduate with a degree that recognizes each individual’s ability to truly engage and to succeed in an educational experience that is constantly asking the question, “Why not?”