David Geffen, one of the most famous business moguls in Hollywood, is giving $150 million to the Yale School of Drama. The gift will make the prestigious school tuition free for all current and future students.
“The donation — the largest on record in the history of American theater — makes the school the only institution of its kind to eliminate tuition for all degree and certificate students, removing financial barriers to access,” the school said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Yale School of Drama will now be known as the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University.
Geffen, who started his career in the mail room at the William Morris Talent Agency, has had a long and successful career in the entertainment industry. He founded Geffen Records, has produced popular Broadway shows including “Cats” and “Dreamgirls,” and co-founded Dreamworks Studio with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg in 1994.
“Yale is well known for having one of the most respected drama programs in the country. So, when they approached me with this opportunity, I knew Yale was the right place to begin to change the way we think about funding arts education,” Geffen said in a statement Wednesday. “Removing the tuition barrier will allow an even greater diversity of talented people to develop and hone their skills in front of, on, and behind Yale’s stages.”
This isn’t the first time that Geffen has giving away a good chunk of his money to the arts. In 2015 he gave $100 million to renovate and rename Avery Fisher Hall, where the New York Philharmonic orchestra plays, as David Geffen Hall.
The Yale School of Drama has had numerous famous graduates over the years including actors Meryl Streep, Courtney B. Vance, and Frances McDormand, as well as playwright David Henry Hwang.
The gift will “eliminate tuition for all degree and certificate students, starting with those enrolled for the fall semester that begins in August, and including returning students,” Yale added on Wednesday.