Businesswoman Mellody Hobson is known for making power moves in corporate America and her latest accomplishment will be breaking barriers at her alma mater. According to CBS News, Princeton University will rename one of its residential colleges after Hobson.
The honor is historic as it marks the first time in the Ivy League institution’s 256-year existence that a residential college has been named after a Black woman. Hobson’s namesake will replace that of former President Woodrow Wilson. The school, which will be dubbed Hobson College, is slated to open in 2026. Hobson—who currently serves as the President and Co-CEO of Ariel Investments—graduated from Princeton in 1991. The Chicago native served as chairwoman at ?DreamWorks Animation. Hobson, a fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion, serves on the boards of the Starbucks Corporation and JPMorgan Chase. The renaming is a part of the university’s effort to grapple with its complex past and amplify individuals of color whose accomplishments and contributions are embedded within its history. In June, amid the unrest, the school announced that it would remove the name of Wilson from its School of Public and International Affairs due to his “racist thinking and policies.”
Hobson, who has supported the advancement of Princeton’s educational programs and initiatives through her philanthropic efforts, was humbled by the honor. “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,” she said in a statement. “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.” The Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation, which she founded with her husband George Lucas, has made the lead gift for the establishment of the school.
News about Hobson’s honor comes after Duke University named one of its campus buildings after Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke; one of the first Black students to enroll at the North Carolina-based university.