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Spelman Announces Recipients of Inaugural Faculty Development Award Funded by Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations Share a Spelman College Press Release


Jazmyn Burton
Spelman College
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Spelman College Carnegie and RockfellerATLANTA (April 27, 2020)  Spelman College recently announced the recipients of its inaugural Carnegie Corporation of New York and Rockefeller Foundation Distinguished Research/ Creative Scholars award.

Supported by a $1 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Rockefeller Foundation, the award inspires the growth of talented faculty members with a $10,000 stipend and fewer teaching responsibilities, in order to focus on writing and research projects.

“There are outstanding scholars in our midst,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “Our first cohort of award winners were selected for their innovative scholarship and their dedication to exploring new ideas and creative practices. It’s our hope that this award allows them to develop stellar research that will help them advance as academics and professionals.”

Faculty are the heart of a liberal arts education. At historically Black colleges and universities, heavy teaching loads often get in the way of professional development and time for research and creative production.

“Excellence and student success rely on pedagogically innovative, research-driven and creative faculty who provide students with the tools that enable them to take responsibility for their learning,” said Dr. Campbell. “Awards like this allow time for scholarly work and research activities that keep faculty current in their field and provides undergraduate research opportunities for our students.”

The following faculty members from each of the College’s divisions were selected to receive an award for the 2020-2021 academic year:

Abayomi OlaAbayomi Ola, Ph.D., associate professor of art history, Division of Arts
Dr. Ola will continue his research on how visual satire in media plays a role in the struggle for political independence. He will work on a book project that will include a "comparative analysis of images on the contestation of power across four Anglophone West African visual cultures." The book will be the first of its kind to be published. 

Tiffany Oliver Spelman CollegeTiffany Oliver, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Dr. Oliver is planning to extend her research on the role of Near Infrared (NIR) light on the inhibition of cell death, which could lead to beneficial health outcomes such as wound-healing and abatement of inflammation. Her research has the potential to also offer insights about cellular respiration.

Spelman Professor Shay WelchShay Welch, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, Division of Humanities
Dr. Welch plans to continue her research in "cognitive enactivism" and complete a book manuscript titled “Choreography as Embodied Critical Inquiry.” Welsh describes her research as “an analytic analysis of what it means to develop, articulate, and express questions that reside in one’s cognitive unconscious to oneself—and to others—through the moving and dancing body qua embodied metaphors."

Erica WilliamsErica Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of and chair of anthropology and sociology, Division of Social Sciences and Education
Dr. Williams will continue research for an upcoming book titled “Constructing Afro-Brazilian Feminisms: Black Women’s Activism in Northeast Brazil,” which explores the roles that sexuality and religiosity play in Black women’s political mobilization and social movement activism.

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading 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. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 57 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 22 for undergraduate teaching and No. 6 for both innovation and social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 13th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit


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