Director Erica Muhl, left, and music industry giants Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre (Andre Young) with USC President C. L. Max Nikias. Photo by Steve Cohn

On a sunny day in May, USC announced an extraordinarily generous—and exceptionally visionary—gift from pioneering music producer Jimmy Iovine and celebrated artist Andre Young, who is known professionally as Dr. Dre. Their $70 million gift will create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation.

The excitement on our campuses swelled quickly. This will be a tremendously groundbreaking program for our undergraduate students, and effectively collapse the boundaries between art and industry, artist and entrepreneur. The academy will prepare keenly creative individuals to become savvy business strategists, while nurturing the artistic sensibilities of talented entrepreneurs. Students will emerge from this program as inspired innovators, amply equipped to assume their place along-side today’s most prescient thinkers.

The academy will enroll its first class of 25 students in fall 2014, and Erica Muhl, dean of the USC Roski School of Fine Arts, will serve as its inaugural director. Its curriculum will be decidedly interdisciplinary, but will primarily draw from the fields of audio and visual design, engineering, business and fine arts. in their fourth year, students will form self-directed teams and advance projects in the “garage,” a highly experiential setting inspired by the storied Hewlett-Packard garage in Palo Alto, Calif., which is often referred to as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

Graduates of the academy will become passionate leaders among their peers, while drawing on an education that emphasizes creativity, artistry, cultural curation and technological invention. As skilled risk-takers, they will redefine the very landscapes of these areas, diligently imagining new art forms, innovative technologies and forward-thinking business models. As they build their careers, as they advance their potential and contribute to society, they will consistently innovate, rather than imitate.

In developing its programming, the academy will regularly host luminaries from outside the university. These visiting faculty and guest speakers will offer both instruction and inspiration to our students, and serve as astute mentors for their projects. They will also help our students bridge their scholarly and creative work with the pragmatic demands of the professional world.

USC is the ideal home for such a dynamic academA y. Our world-class arts schools routinely collaborate with our professional schools, producing projects that blend music and engineering, business and fine arts. The culture of our community has always been rooted in collaboration, in building connections among disciplines, and in bridging fields as disparate as graphic design and marketing, business strategy and technology. This history—this vibe—will form the academy’s foundation.

Meanwhile, the university’s location will certainly fuel the academy’s growth. Off campus, its students will find themselves in the media and creative capital of the world: Los Angeles. Here, music, film and the visual arts remain deeply intertwined, their communities regularly partnering to produce new works and fresh ideas. Our students will also benefit from USC’s proximity to the city’s burgeoning Silicon Beach, as well as its more established sibling, Silicon Valley. These communities will expose our students to cutting-edge technological advances, allowing them to keep a well-placed finger on innovation’s pulse.

This is a landmark moment for USC. We are tremendously proud to partner with Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young to create this new academy, and together, we will prepare stellar artists to be effective entrepreneurs and singular businesspersons to be great artists. In doing so, we will cultivate an elite group of students, building generations of inspired thinkers—all unique among the graduates of top universities today.

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