Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s massive $70 million joint donation ($35 million each) to the University of Southern California has been widely reported.
The funds will go towards a new degree at the University; one that blends liberal arts, graphic and product design, business and technology.
Its an incredibly generous gift. But in a recent editorial, Dillard University president Walter M. Kimbrough posed an interesting question:
Why didn’t Dr. Dre give that money to a black college?
Still, what if Dre had given $35 million — his half of the USC gift and about 10% of his wealth, according to a Forbes estimate — to an institution that enrolls the very people who supported his career from the beginning? An institution where the majority of students are low-income? A place where $35 million would represent a truly transformational gift?
Why didn’t Dr. Dre give it to a black college?
Make no mistake: This donation is historic. It appears to be the largest gift by a black man to any college or university, comparable to the gift Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, gave to Spelman College in 1988. Some 25 years later, their $20-million gift (about $39 million in inflation-adjusted dollars) is still the largest-ever private gift to a historically black college. Dre gave USC almost triple the amount Oprah Winfrey has given Morehouse College over the years. Sean “Diddy” Combs gave $500,000 to Howard University in 1999, which he attended before launching a successful career.
A hip-hop icon is now the new black higher-ed philanthropy king. We’ve never seen a donation to rival this from any black celebrity — musician, athlete or actor — and that fact must be celebrated.
But as the president of a black college, it pains me as well. I can’t help but wish that Dre’s wealth, generated as it was by his largely black hip-hop fans, was coming back to support that community.
As Kimbrough points out, USC is a fine institution, and Dr. Dre is free to do as he wishes with his money.
But with a $3.5-billion endowment, did it really need his money?
What do you think?
Are you disappointed that Dre gave $35 million to USC, rather than a black college?
Is it any of our business what he does with his money?
Sound off below!