A $150 million gift from producer and philanthropist David Geffen will make Yale University's School of Drama completely tuition-free for all current and future degree and certificate students, beginning in August. Yale has rechristened the prestigious school the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University in recognition of the donation, the largest on record for a collegiate theatre program. The gift makes Yale the first tuition-free drama school of its kind in the U.S.
"David Geffen’s visionary generosity ensures that artists of extraordinary potential from all socioeconomic backgrounds will be able to cultivate their talent at Yale," says Yale President Peter Salovey. "It is exciting to think about what will be made possible by increasing access to the premier theatre education at the David Geffen School of Drama. Our students help drive creativity and innovation across all fields—during their time at Yale and after they graduate. So, David’s transformative gift will have a ripple effect in our community and around the world. [School of Drama] Dean Bundy and I are grateful for the trust David places in Yale through this exceptional commitment, and we hope students from every quarter will see that theatre education at Yale is a possibility for them."
Among notable alumni of the graduate-level drama programs at Yale are Lynn Nottage, Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong'o, and David Henry Hwang.
Geffen's career as a producer in music, film, and theatre includes the founding of Asylum Records, Geffen Records, and Geffen Pictures, along with the co-founding of DreamWorks SKG. Previous philanthropic gifts have led to the David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center (formerly Avery Fisher Hall) and Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse (formerly Westwood Playhouse). Geffen's Broadway producing credits include Cats, M. Butterfly, and Dreamgirls.
"Yale is well known for having one of the most respected drama programs in the country," says Geffen. "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. Yale already provides some of the best professional training available to actors, writers, directors, designers, and theater managers from diverse backgrounds. 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. I hope this gift will inspire others to support similar efforts to increase accessibility and affordability for arts education at colleges and universities across the country.”