During The Victor Davis Hanson Show last week, Jack Fowler asked Hoover Institution senior fellow and prominent conservative commentator Victor Davis Hanson about the recently announced $150 million grant from the David Geffen Foundation, created by billionaire Hollywood media mogul David Geffen, to what is now called the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale.
Yale has a tax-exempt endowment totaling $31.5 billion as of June 2020. The Geffen gift will allow all students of its Geffen School to attend totally tuition-free, forevermore.
“Well, you’re talking to somebody who taught 21 years at Cal State, Fresno,” Hanson begins his answer (at just after 3:45 into the podcast). “I’m happy that he wants to give all his money to Yale, but had he given to Cal State, Bakersfield, or to a community college—which could have used the money for scholarships for everybody—I don’t think you and I would be talking about him today.”
Hanson continued: “The elite, our elite, are elite and they gravitate toward elitism. So they love the ivy league because in their world, having your name on a building at Stanford or Harvard or Yale resonates who you are.”
Hanson referenced Geffen’s total individual net worth, which reportedly exceeds $10 billion, as well as his attention-getting luxury superyacht, The Rising Sun, which reportedly is worth $590 million and annually costs $11 million to maintain.
“The other thing is, I don’t think that you could argue that if you look at the great actors, whether in drama or in movies, I may be mistaken, but I don’t think that they came out of the Yale drama school, or the Harvard or Stanford drama schools,” Hanson continues, “in the same way that you don’t really see Steinbeck or Dos Passos or Faulkner coming out Masters of Fine Arts creative-writing programs.
“In other words, in general, when the university tries to teach talent and creativity and arts of any sort, they have a problem, because these are innate talent,” he goes on. Universities
can sharpen and hone one’s skills, and I’m all for that. But the idea that you’re going to get the next 50 Oscar winners coming out of the Yale drama school, or the best Broadway actors in the world coming out of the Yale drama school, or the best writers coming out of the Harvard writing program, I just don’t think that’s going to happen.