For Immediate Release
HIV/AIDS advocate Dazon Dixon Diallo,C’86, and actress and social change agent Anna Deavere Smith to receive Honorary Degrees
ATLANTA (April 19, 2012) -- On Sunday, May 20, at 3 p.m., global media leader and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey will inspire approximately 550 graduates when she delivers the commencement address to the Class of 2012. Winfrey, who received an honorary degree from Spelman College in 1993 will also receive the institution’s National Community Service Award. Honorary degrees will also be given to Dazon Dixon Diallo, C’86, founder and president of SisterLove Inc., and actress, playwright and professor Anna Deavere Smith.
Known for her focus on improving the lives of others through various charitable initiatives, education is at the heart of Ms. Winfrey’s philanthropic efforts. Through her Angel Network, she has helped establish 60 schools in 13 countries and donated
$1 million to six charter schools in the United States in 2010. Her Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program has provided millions of dollars in support to financially challenged students and her 2002 Christmas Kindness initiative in South Africa helped over 50,000 children experience a million moments of happiness. However, among her best known endeavors is the establishment of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, where she has invested more than $40 million to educate students in grades seven through twelve.
Spelman College has a special relationship with the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Three students from the academy have been accepted as first-year students at the college, as part of the Class of 2016. In addition, Spelmanites have participated in internships at the academy, tutoring students and serving as resident assistants.
“We are thrilled to welcome Oprah Winfrey back to our campus to receive this well deserved award. I know her address to the Class of 2012 will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the graduates, as it did in 1993,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., president.
Honorary degrees will be bestowed upon public health advocateDazon Dixon Diallo, C’86, founder and president of SisterLove Inc., one of the first HIV/AIDS non-profit organizations in the Southeast founded by a woman and devoted to women, and highly acclaimed actress, playwright and professor Anna Deavere Smith.
"As the global leader in the education of women of African descent, our mission is to provide an experience rooted in academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and to inspire a life-changing commitment to community involvement and positive social impact,” added Dr. Tatum. “All of our honorees are tangible examples of the roles women can play in changing the world.”
Dr. Ronald E. Peters, eighth President of the Interdenominational Theological Center, will serve as Baccalaureate speaker to the Class of 2012. Dr. Peters, a New Orleans native, is an internationally recognized preacher, author and advisor on social witness policy and urban theological education. Baccalaureate service will be held on Saturday, May 19 at 9 a.m. on the Spelman College Oval.
About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, Ga., the college’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman; Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer; JPMorgan Chase Foundation President Kimberly Davis; former acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley; Harvard College Dean Evelyn Hammonds; author Pearl Cleage; and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu.