Friday, June 21, 2024

Yale Students Want $250 Mil Dorm Renamed for Aretha, Not Benjamin, Franklin


This is a true story.

Students at Yale are demanding that a newly endowed $250 million dorm be named for Aretha Franklin, not Benjamin Franklin.

Billionaire Charles Bartlett Johnson, Yale ’54, has been an active and generous donor to his alma mater for years. He recently earmarked $250 million for a new residence hall. But he wants it to be called Benjamin Franklin College. This is the single largest donation to Yale ever.  Bartlett, whom I’ve reached out to, reveres Benjamin. The elder Franklin is Johnson’s “role model.” I’m not sure what he knows about Aretha.

Yale students, however, are saying they want it named Aretha Franklin College, after the legendary singer and writer. They’re circulating flyers all over campus, making t shirts, and basically causing a ruckus.

Benjamin Franklin received his honorary degree in 1953. He invented the lightning rod and discovered electricity.

Aretha Franklin received her honorary degree from Yale in 2010. She was named the greatest singer in the world by Rolling Stone, has dozens of Grammy Awards, hit records, and has performed for the Pope, presidents, and royalty. She’s also, uh, the Queen of Soul.

The Queen of Soul is on her way to Washington for the White House Correspondents Dinner and a jazz performance at the White House. I’ll let you know what she thinks when she surfaces.

UPDATE 5:46PM FRIDAY Aretha has sent a text: “Wowwaa unbelievable !!!!!ilove it yay to the Y,,,A,,,L,,,,,,E”


Photo courtesy of Yale News and Rachel Treisman

(Tip of the hat to David Friedman, and to Maya Sweedler)

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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