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Spelman Receives $1 Million Gift for New Riggio Scholars Program and Planned Arts and Innovation Center Share a Spelman College Press Release

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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Audrey Arthur
(404) 270-5892
Twitter: @spelmanmedia

Spelman College Riggio Scholars (web2)ATLANTA (December 19, 2016) – Spelman College is pleased to announce the College is the beneficiary of a $1 million gift from Leonard and Louise Riggio that will establish the Riggio Scholars Program and support the College’s planned arts and innovation center.

“From the moment I was surrounded by its warm embrace, I was head over heels in love with Spelman College, and especially with the beautiful people who study and teach there,” said Leonard Riggio, the founder and chairman of Barnes and Noble, Inc., the nation’s largest retail bookseller, of his visit to the College. “The whole of the place seems to have been lifted from the depths of our spirits, to the full realization of our hopes and dreams for a better America. If Spelman is not the paradigm of a great college, I do not know what is. The gift to the scholarship program and to the arts and innovation center from Louise and me commemorates one of the best days I’ve ever had.”

Half of the Riggios gift will be used to underwrite six outstanding Spelman students who have demonstrated stellar academic achievement and who are actively engaged in community service. The remaining $500,000 will be designated for the design and construction of an arts and innovation center. The new state-of-the art center will house the College’s arts programs and Innovation Lab, which encourage creative collaborations at the intersection of the arts, technology, science and other liberal arts disciplines. Program planning for the facility is currently underway.

“Leonard and Louise Riggio have been longstanding supporters of education and the arts,” said Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. “We welcome them as new donors to Spelman and welcome, too, their enthusiasm and faith in the values and mission of the College. Their generous gift supports the academic success of a group of talented, socially engaged students and, at the same time, helps the College launch the planning of a new facility that will encourage campus wide collaborations and community engagement.”

The Riggios philanthropic work involves numerous higher education institutions, including funding the Writing and Democracy Program at The New School. As advocates of the arts, the Riggios were instrumental in the building of Dia:Beacon, one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world, and have served as benefactors for an array of public art initiatives including Chinati, The Spiral Getty, and Michael Heizer’s City Project.

As Riggio Scholars, Spelman students will have an opportunity to expand their intellectual skills as critical thinkers and delve into a transformational experience at the College that places Black women at the center of unique educational and leadership opportunities in science and technology, as well as the social sciences, humanities and the arts.

The following students have been selected as 2016-2017 Riggio Scholars:

•    Joy Milner, C’2020, a health science, dual degree nursing major, volunteers at Morehouse School of Medicine’s microbiology, biochemistry and immunology research laboratory and as a peer tutor at Clayton State University.
•    Chanara Andrews, C’2020, an English major, graduated in the top five percent of her high school class and volunteers as a Spanish/English tutor and peer counselor. She plans a career as a college professor.
•    Jordan Brown, C’2020, a history major, has completed more than 300 service hours as a volunteer with several non-profit organizations including the Girl Scouts. She is interested in multiple careers, including being a museum archivist, documentary filmmaker and college professor.
•    Karchia Wallace-Warthon, C’2019, a political science major, plans to attend law school and work in public service. She is a peer leadership assistant at Spelman.
•    Jenai Bostic, C’2019, a biology major, plans to attend medical school with the goal of establishing a dental practice to provide children and their families with affordable services. She is a peer tutor, resident advisor and student ambassador at Spelman.
•    Miriam Metze, C’2018, an English major, has interned with the United Negro College Fund and aims to pursue a career as an attorney in the area social justice.

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, 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, Broadway producer Alia Jones, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard professor Evelynn Hammonds, author Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit


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