USC Doesn't Need Dr. Dre's $70 Million. An HBCU Does

Dr. Dre recently gave USC $70 million to fund a new blended arts degree, and Walter M. Kimbrough wonders in the Los Angeles Times why the hip-hop icon couldn't give that gift to those who've continually supported his career.

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Dr. Dre at a 2012 Grammy Awards Gala (Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage/Getty)

Dr. Dre recently gave USC $70 million to create a new blended arts and business degree, and Walter M. Kimbrough asks in the Los Angeles Times why the Southern California hip-hop icon couldn't have given that sum to a struggling historically black college.

A hip-hop icon is now the new black higher-ed philanthropy king. We've never seen a donation to rival this from any black celebrity — musician, athlete or actor — and that fact must be celebrated.

But as the president of a black college, it pains me as well. I can't help but wish that Dre's wealth, generated as it was by his largely black hip-hop fans, was coming back to support that community.

USC is a great institution, no question. But it has a $3.5-billion endowment, the 21st largest in the nation and much more than every black college — combined. Less than 20% of USC's student body qualifies for federal Pell Grants, given to students from low-income families, compared with two-thirds of those enrolled at black colleges. USC has also seen a steady decrease in black student enrollment, which is now below 5%.

A new report on black male athletes and racial inequities shows that only 2.2% of USC undergrads are black men, compared with 56% of its football and basketball teams, one of the largest disparities in the nation. And given USC's $45,602 tuition next year, I'm confident Dre could have sponsored multiple full-ride scholarships to private black colleges for the cost of one at USC.

Read Walter M. Kimbrough's entire piece at the Los Angeles Times.

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