The Ivy Coach Daily

July 1, 2021

Yale’s David Geffen School of Drama

Yale University has received a major donation from media mogul David Geffen.

We were once looking at a painting at an auction house — not to purchase, merely to admire. After taking it in, we turned to whisper to a friend, “Who would pay this price for a painting?” The price tag was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. On turning back towards the painting, we happened to spot David Geffen, the namesake of Geffen Records and the ’G’ in Dreamworks SKG, admiring the same painting. We had our answer. Well, it seems David Geffen has opened up his wallet again — this time to the tune of a $150 million gift to Yale University. The gift, believed to be the largest in the history of American theatre, will change the name of the Yale School of Drama. It will now be the David Geffen School of Drama. Heck, its name has already been changed online when you search the term “Yale Drama School.” For $150, things sure do move fast! With the endowment, all present and future graduate students at the theatre school will be able to attend tuition-free.

A Major Donation to Yale is Earmarked for Its Drama School

As Rose Horowtch and Annie Radillo report for The Yale Daily News in a piece entitled “$150 million gift makes Yale School of Drama tuition-free for present, future students,” “The gift, which the University believes is the largest in the history of American theater, will finance tuition for the 200 students studying across 10 degree and certificate programs. The school will go tuition-free starting in the 2021-22 academic year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the drama school did not admit a new class for the upcoming academic year, but has fully subsidized a fourth year for all enrolled students. In recognition of his gift, the University has named the school for Geffen. The naming rights will last in perpetuity, University President Peter Salovey told the News.”

Because When You Think Young People in Need, You Think Yale Drama Students

Now don’t get us wrong. We salute Mr. Geffen for his generous donation. We applaud that he’s making it possible for young people to attend Yale’s drama school in the future at no cost. But we’re also scratching our heads a little bit, thinking a bit of a Malcolm Gladwell Revisionist History podcast we once discussed on the pages of this college admissions blog, about the rich schools getting richer through major donations. You see, of all the wonderful places Mr. Geffen could have donated this large sum, he chose Yale? Mr. Geffen didn’t even go to Yale. He went to the University of Texas at Austin followed by Brooklyn College before resuming his studies at Santa Monica College. But we get it — it might be a vanity play. Maybe he wanted his name associated in perpetuity with an impressive institution like Yale. Maybe he just loves the theatre (he does!). Yet did he have to earmark the money for Yale’s School of Drama? How about the cancer moonshot? How about food insecurity in third world countries? The list goes on. Heck, it’s not like Mr. Geffen made this donation to improve his child’s case for admission. Mr. Geffen doesn’t have a child. But, hey, it’s a nice donation. It’s quite a lot of money. We’re sure that some of the next great American thespians will benefit greatly from a free education at Yale’s David Geffen School of Drama. Maybe we’re just not champions of the arts but it sure seems like an opportunity cost if you ask us.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts on the subject of David Geffen’s major donation to Yale’s drama program by posting a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you! We have an intuition these comments are going to be juicy…

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