Just four months before Columbia Business School welcomes its MBA students to a new home, entertainment honcho David Geffen has pledged $75 million to support the school’s new home on Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus.
The celebrity businessman, founder of record labels Asylum Records, Geffen Records and DGC Records, as well as co-founder of film studio DreamWorks, now joins another famous business donor, private equity magnate Henry Kravis, in helping to fund the new campus. Kravis had earlier pitched in $100 million, the largest gift in the school’s history. When the new campus opens in January, it will represent the manifestation of many years of planning and hard work by former CBS Dean Glenn Hubbard, one of the most successful fundraisers in B-school history.
Geffen, 78, who is not an alumnus of the school, ponied up through the David Geffen Foundation. His pledge will count as a naming gift on one of the two new business school buildings which is expected to open to students in January of 2022. Named David Geffen Hall, the eight-story structure will house dedicated spaces for academic programming, study groups, and formal and impromptu meetings, serving as a conduit for student collaboration and networking.
GEFFEN HALL WILL BE ACROSS FROM HENRY R. KRAVIS HALL ON NEW CAMPUS
Geffen Hall will face its architectural companion, Henry R. Kravis Hall, from across a central square. Henry R. Kravis Hall was named in recognition of the support Kravis, a 1969 alum, has provided for the business school’s new campus and “his leadership as co-chair of the Business School’s Board and in a variety of other capacities,” according to the school.
For Geffen, the pledge is the latest in a string of significant philanthropic contributions to a wide array of institutions and endeavors, including in the arts, culture, education, medicine and civil liberties. “I’m proud to provide support for the Columbia Business School at this moment of opportunity and change,” Geffen said in a statement. “The School is among the best of its kind in the world, and will prepare future generations of business leaders.”
The two new long-awaited buildings will allow CBS to move out of its old, cramped facility on the main campus and double the school’s current square footage. The school says that the new campus would allow “the re-imagination of business education in dynamic, flexible and natural light-filled spaces designed to foster learning and collaboration.”
RON PERELMAN’S EARLIER PLEDGE HAS SINCE BEEN REDIRECTED TO TUITION AWARDS
Ronald Perelman, who made a $100 million pledge to CBS in 2013 when the new campus project was originally announced, has since redirected his financial commitment to permanent tuition assistance. Over the past year, Perelman worked with the leadership of the business school to offer full tuition awards for students from underrepresented racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups, with the aim of expanding a more diverse generation of business leaders. Columbia will welcome its first class of Perelman Scholars in September of 2022, following the opening of the school’s new campus in January.
In the school’s statement announcing the gift, Kravis, the Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of KKR & Co. Inc., said, “I am delighted that David has joined with me and countless others to support Columbia’s expansion on the Manhattanville campus and to shape a new generation of business leaders. Columbia Business School’s new facilities will allow each of its students to harness the entrepreneurial spirit that thrives in all of us. I’m excited to walk through the front doors of the new buildings as a supporter but, more importantly, as a proud alumnus.”
Unlike Kravis, who earned his MBA at Columbia and did his undergraduate work in economics at Claremont McKenna College, Geffen dropped out of college. The billionaire, whose music label recorded Elton John, Cher, Aerosmith, and more, is a generous benefactor, having pledged $300 million to UCLA’s medical school, which is named for him, and $150 million to make Yale University’s David Geffen School of Drama tuition-free. He founded the David Geffen Foundation in 1987, and it has distributed nearly $400 million to nonprofits according to tax filings through 2019.
The new campus has received generous support from a large number of CBS alums who have had various pieces of the two buildings named after them, including Leon G. Cooperman ’67 Commons, Arthur J. Samberg ’67 Commons, and the Alice & Nathan ’64 Gantcher Classroom, and the Lulu Chow Wang ’83 Alumni Suite. Other major donors include Russell Carson, a 1967 grad; Mario Gabelli and Regina Pitaro, ’67 and ’82 graduates, Mark Gallogly and Lise Strickler, who both graduated in 1986.
Columbia Business School Dean Costis Maglaras, who in 2019 succeeded Hubbard after his 15-year stint in the job, has since focused on the development of a curriculum prioritizing interdisciplinary collaboration across the university and beyond in areas including digital transformation, healthcare, climate change and and the interface between business and society. Maglaras also has expanded entrepreneurship opportunities by strengthening partnerships with the university’s other schools, the New York tech community, and B-school alumni.
DEAN PUBLICLY THANKS GEFFEN AND KRAVIS FOR THEIR SUPPORT
“Modern business is predicated on the expanded adoption of technology, data and advanced analytics alongside the fundamentals of traditional business education,” said Maglaras in a statement. “Our new facilities on the Manhattanville campus reflect this reality, creating a truly collaborative and immersive business school experience that is unique to Columbia Business School. On behalf of the entire Columbia community, I want to offer my sincerest gratitude to David for his partnership, as well as to Henry for his longstanding and consummate support of the school.”
Located nine blocks north of Columbia’s historic Morningside Heights campus, Columbia’s Manhattanville campus in West Harlem is designed to bring together a diversity of academic disciplines to address the great questions facing society while welcoming the wider community to experience a shared space for civic life. The 17-acre campus is already home to the Lenfest Center for the Arts, the Forum, and the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, which houses the Zuckerman Institute for the study of the mind and brain.
David Geffen Hall and Henry R. Kravis Hall are designed by acclaimed architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with FXCollaborative and encompass approximately 492,000 square feet on the Manhattanville campus. From construction to the operation of the completed buildings, the School’s future home will strengthen ties to the surrounding community while having a minimal impact on the environment.