Beverly Daniel Tatum: Letter to the Community
Dear Spelman Community and Friends,
As many of you know, we publicly launched a major comprehensive fundraising campaign in the fall of 2009 — with a goal of $150 million dollars, the largest campaign effort in our history. Thanks to the hard work of many, and the generous support of our donors, including 71% of our alumnae who made gifts during the campaign, we not only met our goal, but we have exceeded it. Today, I am happy to report that we have successfully raised $157.8 million.
We knew it would be a challenge given that we were right in the midst of the Great Recession when we started. But with the support of the Board of Trustees, we forged ahead, knowing that our success would bring our strategic plan into reality. We set the end date for our campaign as June 30, 2014, and over these last five years we have all kept our focus on that goal.
Our generous supporters have helped us to increase faculty and renew our campus with the renovation of Laura Spelman Rockefeller Hall and the construction of a new and improved Read Hall — home of our Wellness Revolution. They have also helped us to extend our global reach and expand our technology. Of critical importance, we have generated $53 million in new scholarship support, more than doubling the scholarships we are able to offer every year. These and other investments have strengthened the core of Spelman, just as we hoped it would.
One of the most exciting things about our campaign success is the way our alumnae rallied around the effort. Our “Every Woman, Every Year” slogan has truly been embraced by Spelmanites across the country, and we can all take great pride in knowing that 12,348 of our graduates made a financial contribution to this campaign. This year alone we have had the highest number of alumnae donors in the history of the college — 7,060 or 41% gave a gift to their alma mater! Their active participation inspired other donors to give generously as well.
It is tremendously gratifying to see the College moving ahead with such momentum, and I want to thank our entire Spelman community for helping us to make history together! I look forward to celebrating this tremendous success on campus during Homecoming in October.
As is often the case, after a major milestone has been achieved, it is a natural impulse to step back and reflect on what has happened and to think about what lies ahead. “What’s next?” is a commonly asked question. I have been reflecting on this question quite a lot myself, and have concluded that now is the right time for me to begin planning the next chapter of my life, and for the College to begin planning for a leadership transition. In September I will celebrate my 60th birthday, and as I prepare for the next decade, I have decided to return to my life as a scholar and a writer. And with that in mind, I have informed the Board of Trustees of my intention to retire from this position at the end of the academic year on June 30, 2015.
It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to serve as the president of Spelman College for the last 12 years. I have cherished the opportunity, and I take great pride in what we have accomplished together. There is of course more to do — Spelman must always continue to grow and evolve in order to remain the vibrant learning community that we want it to be. But serving as president is like running a relay race. You take the baton from the runner who came before you, and run as hard as you can to make as much progress as possible — until it is your turn to pass the baton to the next runner. As our campaign comes to a close, and I prepare for my big birthday, I can see that my portion of this relay race is coming to an end.
But it is not quite finished yet. In the coming year, I will be running hard to ensure a strong finish and a smooth hand-off of the baton to whomever will be the next president of Spelman College. I have two primary goals — to continue to raise scholarship funds to ensure that those who enter Spelman have what they need to be able to complete their education — and the second is to work hand in hand with our arts faculty to prepare the way for an innovative teaching and learning space on campus. The arts, too, are an essential part of an excellent 21st century education.
The momentum of our campaign will be the wind at our back. Together, we will prepare the way for the success of our next leader. I want to thank all of you for your love and support thus far, and look forward to thanking as many of you in person as I can in the coming year.
Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.