Mellody Hobson ’91 received the Woodrow Wilson Award in 2019.
Photo: Sameer A. Khan

Princeton University will establish a new residential college named Hobson College, thanks to a major gift from Mellody Hobson ’91, co-CEO of Ariel Investments. The college will be the first named after a Black person in the University’s history and will be built on the site of the former Wilson College. 

“This extraordinary gift will be transformative for Princeton,” President Eisgruber ’83 said in an announcement about the gift made by Hobson and the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. He added, “Mellody Hobson is a wonderful role model for our students, and we are thrilled that her name will now grace our newest residential college.”

The University did not release the amount of Hobson’s gift.

Construction of Hobson College will begin in 2023, after the opening of the two residential colleges currently under construction south of Poe Field — Perelman College and an eighth college that has not yet been named. Hobson College is scheduled to open in the fall of 2026.

In addition to her work at Ariel, Hobson is a prominent expert on financial literacy and investor education and served as a Princeton trustee from 2002 to 2006. Hobson currently sits on the boards of Starbucks and JPMorgan Chase.

Citing Wilson’s “racist thinking and policies,” Princeton’s Board of Trustees voted to remove Woodrow Wilson 1879’s name from the School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College in June. The college was temporarily renamed First College, in honor of its being the first residential college on campus.

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

Hobson, who has been a contributor to CBS and ABC news, received the Woodrow Wilson Award on Alumni Day in 2019. That year, she and her husband, film director George Lucas, were also awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy for their major investments in disadvantaged communities. Time magazine named Hobson one of its “100 Most Influential People” in 2015.