An Extraordinary and Unprecedented Gift from David Geffen
June 30, 2021
Dear School of Drama Community,
It is our great privilege to announce a gift of $150 million from the David Geffen Foundation in support of the School of Drama.
The purpose of this extraordinary and unprecedented donation is to ensure that from this day forward, in perpetuity, full-time students in degree and certificate programs will receive 100% tuition remission, beginning with the 2021-22 academic year. These programs are now, and always will be, “tuition free.”
As at any school, the most important question we can ask ourselves is, who comes to learn? Our vision, made possible by Mr. Geffen’s generosity, is of world class graduate theater training that visibly eliminates financial barriers for all prospective students. We aim to reduce educational debt so that aspiring artists and managers may enter the field with both passion and prudence. Current students who wish to understand the impact of this gift on their term bill may find answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.
In recognition of Mr. Geffen’s generosity, the School will now be called David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. Our website is live with this news, which has also been released to the wider Yale community and the press, and we will recognize this change throughout the next year in the rebranding of our signage and communications. The Yale News story published by the Office of Public Affairs and Communication may be read here. We ask that you direct any press inquiries about this news to Steven Padla, Director of Communications.
Mr. Geffen’s own groundbreaking work in music, theater, and film has been marked by an uncanny ability to identify and uplift artists of singular and consequential talent. His unparalleled success in multiple media is a testament to his discernment and artistic sensibility, as well as his resourceful advancement of creative ideas to the widest possible audience.
In a second career as a visionary philanthropist, Mr. Geffen has championed health, education, arts and culture, and civil liberties, among other causes, with leadership gifts to UCLA, home to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Lincoln Center, the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the Geffen Playhouse, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis, among others. You may read more of his biographical history here.
Mr. Geffen’s distinctive accomplishment and vision are again represented in this gift, which will give unprecedented access and financial aid to every student in our degree and certificate programs, building upon Yale’s iconic legacy of recruiting, training, and advancing leaders in every discipline of the theater. We are deeply grateful to him.
We honor, as well, the School’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, volunteers, and donors, past and present, who built that legacy: their hard work, commitment to our mission, and spiritual connection to the life of the imagination have enriched cultures around the world. Their efforts and camaraderie, now and ever, are the lifeblood of our program.
We are also thankful to Yale President Peter Salovey, who has forged a meaningful partnership between the University and Mr. Geffen to ensure that the donation achieves maximum impact across all the School’s programs.
As our art form returns to in-person performance and the development of anti-racist practice in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and our society’s reckoning with racial injustice, it is inspiring to feel Mr. Geffen’s and the University’s enthusiasm, not only for students, but also for the immediacy that defines theater-making. This gift is also a giant step toward a more accessible and inclusive performing arts community. We look forward to celebrating this momentous turning point in the School’s history in person with colleagues on campus during our Orientation Week at the end of August.
In the meantime, a loving gift of this magnitude leaves us thrice-blessed: with a jubilant observance of the power of live theater; with a humbling reminder of our responsibility for the quality of training we offer to present and future students; and with the thrilling promise of those students’ talents for making art that promotes wonder, empathy, and understanding in the world, for generations to come.
We share with you our joy and gratitude, along with our dedication to illuminating the brightest possible future for the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale.
Elizabeth Parker Ware Dean
Kelvin Dinkins, Jr.