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Spelman President Joins Discussion on COVID-19 and the Future of Higher Education Share a Spelman College Press Release


Jazmyn Burton
Spelman College
404-798-5212 (cell)

ATLANTA (May 11, 2020) Administrators in higher education like Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman College, are considering how to adapt to a post-COVID-19 learning environment.

Qatar Foundation Spelman CollegeDr. Campbell recently joined educational leaders from three continents to explore the findings of a new research report commissioned by the Qatar foundation titled “New schools of thought: Innovative models for delivering higher education.”

According to the report, the aftermath of COVID-19 will have a lasting effect on students, who will have the power to bankrupt universities that do not meet their expectations. For Spelman, the complications will be compounded by the fact that the coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on the African American community.

“Our community has been the hardest hit and when you add to that the technology divide, you have a perfect storm of inequality that will become a real challenge to bridge,” said Dr. Campbell.

The Economist Intelligence UnitThe full report, which was produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit, outlines how higher education institutions must adapt to survive as they face dwindling public funding, questions over their value and the challenges that technology and automation pose. Spelman and the Atlanta University Center Consortium are included in the report as a case study.

The local communities that institutions like Spelman help support through educational exchange opportunities will also be affected by changes in higher education.

“Academic partnerships are extremely important in days like this,” said Dr. Campbell. “As we are rethinking our priorities, those of us who are in urban areas and locally based, as opposed to globally based, have a real responsibility to become part of the solution that corrects an inequity that begins in early childhood education.”

In the last year, Spelman students have made a marked improvement in the literacy levels of Atlanta middle school students by volunteering as tutors in SpelReads, the College’s literacy program with local schools. During the conversation, Dr. Campbell recommended institutions of higher education share resources and collaborate, which, as detailed in the report, has resulted in shared costs and higher efficiencies for the Atlanta University Center Consortium. 

A recording of the discussion and the report are available here.

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

About Qatar Foundation
The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) is a non-profit organization that supports Qatar on its journey to becoming a diversified and sustainable economy. QF strives to serve the people of Qatar and beyond by providing specialized programs across its innovation-focused ecosystem of education, research and development, and community development. QF was founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Amir, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, who shared the vision to provide Qatar with quality education. Today, QF's world-class education system offers lifelong learning opportunities to community members as young as six months through to doctoral level, enabling graduates to thrive in a global environment and contribute to the nation's development.

QF is also creating a multidisciplinary innovation hub in Qatar, where homegrown researchers are working to address local and global challenges. By promoting a culture of lifelong learning and fostering social engagement through programs that embody Qatari culture, QF is committed to empowering the local community and contributing to a better world for all.


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