CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicagoan Mellody Hobson will be honored by her former university with a building named after her.
The businesswoman and co-CEO of Ariel Investments, graduated from Princeton University in 1991. Hobson is also an alum of Chicago’s St. Ignatius Prep. The building was originally named after President Woodrow Wilson. Earlier this year, the university announced it would remove Wilson’s name because of the president’s racist views.
“No one from my family had graduated from college when I arrived at Princeton from Chicago, and yet even as I looked up at buildings named after the likes of Rockefeller and Forbes, I felt at home,” Hobson said.
Princeton will begin work on the building in 2023 and open in 2026. It will be called Hobson College.
“I was most compelled by the symbolism of a Black woman replacing the name of someone who would not have supported my admission three decades ago, and what that would represent for future generations,” Hobson said.
Hobson serves as chair of the board of trustees of the Ariel Investment Trust. She also serves on the boards of Starbucks and JPMorgan Chase. She was formerly the director of Estée Lauder and board chair of DreamWorks Animation SKG.
“”My hope is that my name will remind future generations of students — especially those who are Black and Brown and the ‘firsts’ in their families — that they too belong,” she said.
— Mellody Hobson (@MellodyHobson) October 8, 2020
“This extraordinary gift will be transformative for Princeton,” said President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83, who began discussing the gift with Hobson last year. “It will enable us to improve the student experience at Princeton and to reimagine a central part of our campus, while also recognizing a remarkable woman who is a positive, powerful force for change in the world. Mellody Hobson is a wonderful role model for our students, and we are thrilled that her name will now grace our newest residential college. I am grateful to Mellody and the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation for their generosity and their forward-thinking commitment to Princeton.”
It’s not the first time Hobson and her husband and filmmaker George Lucas have made generous donations to a school.
In 2014, they donated $25 million to the University of Chicago Lab Schools, to help pay for construction of a new arts hall. The Gordon Parks Arts Hall building will be the first on the U of C campus named after an African-American.
“It was important to us that the University of Chicago campus have a building named for an African American, given the diverse community in which it sits, and the outstanding contributions to our society by people of color,” Hobson said in a statement on the university’s website.
In a tweet, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent her congratulations to “a daughter of Chicago.”
Mellody Hobson, a daughter of Chicago, has a true heart of service. This honor is a reminder to future generations of Black and Brown students that there is no limit to their potential. https://t.co/6g69aGHwiV
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) October 9, 2020