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Spelman College's In Memoriam Tributes

Dr. Tatum Reflects on Dr. Jane Smith's Legacy of Leadership

Beverly Daniel Tatum | Spelman's 9th President

Beverly Daniel TatumDr. Jane Smith had a long history with Spelman College, going back to her childhood as a young student at the Spelman nursery school and later as a Spelman graduate and as a college administrator early in her career.  Our shared history began in 2004 at the first Spelman Women of Color Leadership Conference. 

When I became president in 2002, I wanted to create a leadership center that would bring the varied campus leadership development programs together for maximum impact.  The only problem was that I had no money in the budget to launch a new initiative or hire a director.  That problem was solved when alumna Kimberly Davis and her colleague Pamela Carlton stepped forward to work as loaned executives from JPMorganChase to spend the 2003-04 academic year laying the foundation for LEADS, our new Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. 

They organized our first Women of Color Leadership Conference and invited Dr. Jane Smith, then the CEO of Business and Professional Women (BPW/USA), to speak at the conference.  She was such a powerful presence at the podium, and connected so easily with the students, alumnae and corporate representatives in attendance that by the time the conference was over, Kim, Pam and I all came to the same conclusion.  When they returned to their corporate roles at the end of the year, the new Executive Director of the Leadership Center should be Dr. Jane Smith!  A short time later, Jane and I had dinner together to discuss the possibility.  I was delighted when Jane said “Yes!” 

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum Honors the Life and Legacy of Dr. Jane Smith

During the eleven years that we worked together Jane brought hard work, positive energy, fresh ideas and a personal standard of excellence to the task of building our fledgling center into an anchor of leadership development for our students. The annual Women of Color Leadership Conference flourished, and under her direction, the Women of Excellence Leadership (WEL) Program expanded to become one of the most popular student programs on campus. 

Other initiatives such as the Coca-Cola Mentoring Program, the Walmart First Generation Program, the DOE Girls Leadership Institute were launched with corporate sponsorships that Jane made possible through her persistent networking and advocacy on behalf of her beloved Spelman College.  By the time a decade had passed as Executive Director of LEADS, Jane had developed a certificate model and a corporate funding strategy to support each of the certificate programs, designed specifically to examine leadership subjects and to teach leader skills. 

With boundless energy, she launched convocation programs such as the Leaders on Leadership Speakers Series, an Entrepreneurship series, and a program called Alumnae Voices to showcase the alumnae leaders that Spelman had produced. 

She enjoyed working directly with student organizations such as the campus chapter of the National Council of Negro Women and the National Society of Leadership and Success. She also provided oversight of the Bonner Office of Community Service and Student Development. Under Jane's leadership, Project Impact was launched, a campus wide initiative to focus student community service to maximize impact in the surrounding community.  Despite a full schedule, she also became an instructor in the Second Year Experience leadership course, assisting the academic deans with the design of the weekly modules. 

Spelman Salutes Dr. Jane E. SmithDr. Jane Smith was a model of exemplary leadership for everyone who knew her, but most especially for students. She set a high bar for students and watched with pride as they rose to meet it. She was a delightful colleague to many, a consummate team player, always willing to partner with others across campus to ensure the success of college initiatives.  I knew that if I asked Jane to do something, it would be done well.  We all counted on her ability to execute programs with both attention to detail and with her signature style.  

When I think of Dr. Jane Smith’s legacy of leadership at Spelman College, I think of what it means to find your “true vocation.” The theologian Frederick Buechner said that true vocation comes from linking self to service. True vocation lies “where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” 

In so many ways, Jane modeled the joy that comes from finding her true vocation, from linking self to service as she did every day.  It was a blessing to know her and work with her.  I will forever be grateful to Jane for saying “Yes” that day in 2004.  Spelman College is a better place because Dr. Jane Smith was there.

Tribute Submission for Dr. Jane Smith

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