mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Ain't Nuthin' But a College Thang

Dr. Dre

World-renowned music moguls and entrepreneurs Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are getting into another business: higher education. The rapper and producer made a $70 million donation to the University of Southern California to create a degree “that blends business, marketing, product development, design and liberal arts.” The New York Times reports:

The details of the four-year program, officially the U.S.C. Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young [Dr. Dre’s given name] Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, are still being completed. The first class of 25 students will enter in fall 2014, selected for their academic achievement, the university said, as well as their ability for “original thought.”

At the core of the curriculum is something called “the Garage,” which will require seniors to essentially set up a business prototype. It appears to be inspired by technology incubators like Y-Combinator and universities like Stanford that encourage students to develop and pitch start-up ideas as class assignments.

Presumably both Dre and Iovine know what they’re looking for. The two have not only found immense success in the music industry (Eminem and Lady Gaga are just two of the many acts they developed and brought to glory), but in business as well. Beats Electronics, an audio products company they’ve also jointly founded, brings in $1 billion in revenue annually. Their idea to create the degree stemmed from their inability to find qualified candidates for their businesses, a problem other executives can surely relate to.

The details of the program have yet to be released, but the core idea is intriguing. Rather than set up a conventional degree program in business, Dre and Iovine are specifically targeting their program towards the skills they see as most needed in the job market. And not only do they want to educate prospective students, but they’d even like to eventually employ them as well.

Overall, the traditional higher education model has gone stale, and we’d like to see more choices for students—whether it be vocational programs, two year degrees, MOOCs, or degree programs like this with private sector involvement. At a time when college grads are chained to debt and under (or un) employed, this kind of innovation is exactly what’s needed.

Rock on, Dre.

[Dr. Dre image courtesy of Shutterstock]

Features Icon
show comments
  • LivingRock

    Perhaps a way to get to the “stuff known” model to replace the “time served” one? If the ultimate employer is investing in a specially designed education program, then they’ll surely accept whatever credential is given once the program is completed. This particular program is explained as a “four year program”, but what if the donor that funded the program demanded something else than the typical four year program? What if the donor said that MOOCs were to be part of the program? Would a university be so stupid as to turn down $70 mil and an attractive idea just b/c the donor had different ideas of degree

  • Alexander Scipio

    Of far greater use would be for them to concentrate on K-12. Seriously – NOT sarcastically: for tens of thousands of years learning (tradition, etc) was put to rhyme or song – a heckuva lot longer than into books. We have millions of educationally-underserved kids today in the worst neighborhoods with the worst schools with (charitably) non-supportive parents. What do these kids do and listen to ? Rap. Tell me – seriously – why a set of curricula – say the Constitution, US History, etc. – could not be put into rap and thus into these kids’ learning system? Maybe even basic math. Seriously. And why would these entrepreneurs not be the right people to do so? ANYTHING that can aid in the education of the inner city would be huge. Anything. This does not seem as though it would be difficult – and the dividends could be huge.

    • skhpcola

      Because rap degrades the cultural values that shaped the greatest nation in the history of civilization. Encouraging the fetid swamp of hip-hop and rap would be a disservice to those that embrace it. If they want to be pimps and hoes and thugs, that’s their choice…but we shouldn’t be complicit in the destruction of our culture.

      And that’s not racist, to head off any plaints in that forming in the brains of readers. It is demonstrable fact.

      • Nick M.

        But is this supposed degradation from the sound, or the words? Scipio advocates the use of the wording to advance education. I’m only a slight fan of some rap/hip-hop, but isn’t this the same argument people use to use against rock?

        I for one applaud Dr. Dre and Iovine for this not insignificant contribution, not just for the cause, but how they did it. They didn’t demand other people’s money to do it through taxation. They put their own money up. So if this program succeeds, they should also get the bulk of the credit for it. And if it fails, at least they had the courage to use their own capital to try to reform a failing system.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service