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AAC&U Selects Spelman College as an Inaugural Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center Share a Spelman College Press Release

Spelman College

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Audrey Arthur
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation  Logo (web)ATLANTA (August 18, 2017)
  – The Association of American Colleges and Universities has selected Spelman College as one of 10 institutions that will serve as inaugural sites for the first Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Centers. With generous support from Newman’s Own Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, AAC&U will guide the development of the TRHT Campus Centers as part of a multi-year initiative to educate, prepare, and inspire the next generation of leaders to advance justice and build equitable communities.

Through a competitive process, institutions were selected based on their proposals’ ability to create positive narratives about race, identify and examine current realities of race relations in their communities, envision communities without entrenched racial hierarchies, and pinpoint levers for change and key individuals to engage. The institutions will receive an initial award of $30,000 to develop and implement visionary plans that engage and empower campus and community stakeholders to uproot the conscious and unconscious biases and misbeliefs that have exacerbated racial violence and tension in American society.

Sharon Davies“It is an honor to have been selected as one of the inaugural colleges to serve as a TRHT Campus Center,” said Spelman’s Provost Sharon Davies, who has held leadership positions related to inclusion, social justice, and equity in academic and non-academic organizations, including director of The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity. “As the nation's top historically Black college or university, with a rich history of producing Black women ready to lead lives of exceptional impact, every day Spelman is proud of our graduates, who defy the harmful and persistent narratives that continue to denigrate the lives of Black Americans and reinforce beliefs in a hierarchy of human value. TRHT campuses will be key partners in the work to refute those beliefs and create deeper understanding of the true causes of racial inequity in our country.”

Over the course of the multi-year project, AAC&U will provide strategic direction to the Campus Centers with the support of the TRHT advisory board, a network of national advisors and experts.  

The 10 institutions selected as sites for the first TRHT Campus Centers are:

•    Austin Community College (TX)
•    Brown University (RI)
•    Duke University (NC)
•    Hamline University (MN)
•    Millsaps College (MS)
•    Rutgers University—Newark (NJ)
•    Spelman College (GA)
•    The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina (SC)
•    University of Hawai’i at Mà„noa (HI)
•    University of Maryland Baltimore County (MD)
Lynn Pasquerella"In the aftermath of the horrific, heartbreaking events in Charlottesville, we must not be silent. Instead, we must harness our collective intellectual, social and financial resources to transform words into action," said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “AAC&U is thrilled to partner with these first ten outstanding institutions on our way to establishing 150 centers across the country to ensure that higher education is playing a leadership role in promoting racial and social justice.”

For more than 136 years, Spelman has been defying structural and ideological barriers to demand equal treatment and opportunity within the economic, legal, educational and residential components of communities. TRHT supports the College’s mission of producing graduates who are empowered to address inequities in society.

Mary Schmidt Campbell"Spelman’s TRHT Center will serve as a focal point for the ongoing service and advocacy activities related to racial injustices, provide a renewed sense of purpose for existing programs and relationships, and extend Spelman’s impact in breaking down stereotypes and ideas about racial hierarchies," said Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.

Spelman Faculty Cynthia Spence“At this particular moment in history, the Spelman College Social Justice Fellows program is thrilled to work with others within the Spelman community and the larger metro Atlanta community of colleges and universities and social justice advocacy agencies to engage in difficult dialogues around truth, racial healing and transformation,” said Cynthia Neal Spence, Ph.D., C’78, associate professor of sociology, and director of the Social Justice Fellows program and the UNCF Mellon Programs. “Our TRHT theme, "Rituals of Citizenship," creates opportunities for robust discussions and special presentations that will interrogate entrenched patterns of access and inclusion and what it means to occupy and/or contest one's positionality as a citizen domestically and globally.”

Atlanta colleges, universities and agencies that plan to partner with Spelman on difficult dialogue initiatives are Agnes Scott College, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Morehouse College and the YWCA of Greater Atlanta.

As a TRHT Campus Center, each year, 10 Spelman undergraduate Social Justice Scholars will carry out advocacy projects in the surrounding community and participate in leadership development activities around a selected theme. For the next three years, the theme of the Social Justice program, “Rituals of Citizenship,” will include advocacy training, selected readings and colloquium speakers, such as Bryan Stevenson, founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Other programming will be developed with campus partners, including the Bonner Office of Civic Engagement, the Women's Research and Resources Center and the Innovation Lab.  

Teams from the selected institutions will participate in a kick-off TRHT project meeting in September 2017 and attend AAC&U’s inaugural Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Institute in January 2018 in Washington, D.C. At the TRHT Institute, the Campus Centers will develop transformative action plans to advance racial healing and will be involved in the creation of a related guidebook to support the implementation of future TRHT Campus Centers. This guidebook will be available to AAC&U’s network of more than 60,000 higher education leaders. In collaboration with AAC&U, Campus Center teams will identify evidence-based strategies that support the vision of the TRHT enterprise by working with an evaluation consultant to design a framework for measuring progress. Teams will develop a sustainability plan outlining strategies for securing funding from institutional and community partners to ensure that the next generation of strategic leaders and critical thinkers are prepared for and focused on dismantling the belief in the hierarchy of human value.

Initiated in 2016 by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, TRHT is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. TRHT seeks to unearth and jettison the deeply held, and often unconscious, beliefs created by racism—the main one being the belief in a “hierarchy of human value.” This absurd belief, which has fueled racism and conscious and unconscious bias throughout American culture, is the perception of inferiority or superiority based on race, physical characteristics or place of origin.

Learn more about AAC&U’s TRHT initiative and resources.

About AAC&U
AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises nearly 1,400 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size. AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education and inclusive excellence at both the national and local levels, and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges. Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at the AAC&U website.

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 Spelman College.


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