Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine Donate $70 Million to USC for Arts Academy

Gift will establish a new four-year undergraduate program

Dr. Dre
Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic
Dr. Dre
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Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are giving $70 million to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to establish a four-year undergraduate program for students interested in a mix of the arts, visual design, entrepreneurship, computer science and marketing. 

The gift will create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, with the intention of attracting students "who challenge conventional views of art and industry," according to a statement by the university.

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The Iovine and Young Academy will focus on four core subjects: arts and entrepreneurship; technology, design and marketability; concept and business platforms and creating a prototype. The program will include one-on-one faculty mentoring from USC's schools of business, fine arts, engineering and music, and offer students the opportunity to interact with guest speakers and lecturers from the arts and entertainment field.

"The vision and generosity of Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young will profoundly influence the way all of us perceive and experience artistic media," university President C. L. Max Nikias said. "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."

The academy will enroll its first class of 25 students in the fall of 2014. Applicants will be chosen by "a rigorous review process" based on academic achievement and the "proven ability for original thought." 

Iovine, the chairman of Universal Music Group's Interscope Geffen A&M Records division, started as a recording engineer and producer in the Seventies who worked with artists including Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, Patti Smith, Tom Petty, U2 and Stevie Nicks, among others. He co-founded Interscope Records in 1990 and helped build the careers of Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Nine Inch NailsNo Doubt, Eminem and Lady Gaga.

Dre started his career in Compton as a member of the World Class Wreckin' Crew, before co-founding the influential rap group N.W.A. in 1986. Their 1988 release Straight Outta Compton remains a genre-defining album that was reissued in 2002. Dre made his solo debut in 1992 with The Chronic, which also introduced Snoop Dogg. Dre produced Snoop's 1993 debut, Doggystyle, along with later albums by Eminem and 50 Cent.

In 2006, Iovine and Dre co-founded the electronics company Beats Electronics, which this year plans to launch a new streaming music service in collaboration with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.