In addition to being a giant in the entertainment world, mega-magnate David Geffen—founder of DreamWorks, Geffen Records, Asylum Records, and more—is equally well known for his philanthropic efforts. Particularly when it comes to the arts and investing in the talent of the future, as evidenced by premier cultural centers like UCLA’s Geffen Playhouse and Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.
While UCLA has been the recipient of hundreds of millions of Geffen’s dollars over the years, he’s now sending some of that same generosity to the east coast with a $150 million donation to the Yale School of Drama, which Deadline reports will allow approximately 200 students per year to attend the prestigious training ground—tuition-free.
“By reducing the debt burden of the average student, we create more resilient artists and managers who are able to make braver artistic choices—they’re able to take that downtown play and they don’t have to have a career selling real estate on the side,” said drama school dean James Bundy. “Not every artist is going to break through at the age of 25 or 26 or 27. Certain kinds of careers take time to build, and entering the professions with less debt is going to make for more interesting and more resounding choices in the long run.”
Yale offers one of the most competitive drama schools in the world and its alumni include the best of the best: Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, Frances McDormand, Angela Bassett, Tony Shalhoub, Patricia Clarkson, and Lupita Nyong’o are just some of the school’s acting alumni. But its programs include design, directing, and playwrighting, too, so they’ve got plenty of past students to boast about behind the camera and stage scenes, too.
Deadline reports that Geffen’s gift is the largest donation in the history of American theater. Appropriately, the school will now be renamed the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University.