Princeton receives major gift from Mellody Hobson, family foundation

Princeton receives major gift from Mellody Hobson, family foundation

Princeton University has announced a lead gift from alumna Mellody Hobson ('91) and the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation to establish a new residential college.

Hobson Hall, the first residential college at Princeton to be named for an African-American woman, will be built on the site of First College, formerly named for Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States and a former president of Princeton (1902-10). Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023, following the opening of two new colleges currently under construction. 

In June, the Princeton board voted to remove Wilson's name from the School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College. While recognizing Wilson's many achievements, the board determined that his "racist views and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or a college whose scholars, students, and alumni must stand against racism." 

Currently co-CEO of Ariel Investments, vice president of the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation board, and chair of the educational nonprofit After School Matters, Hobson served as a Princeton trustee from 2002 to 2006, during which time the university developed its "no-loan" financial aid program. She and her husband, Star Wars creator George Lucas, were awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2019.

"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," said Hobson. "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. Renaming Wilson College is my very personal way of letting them know that our past does not have to be our future."

"Major gift from Mellody Hobson ’91 names new residential college." Princeton University press release 10/08/2020.