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Spelman’s 10th President to Retire After Exceeding $250M Fundraising Goal Share a Spelman College Press Release



Jazmyn Burton
Spelman College

ATLANTA (August 17, 2021) -- Today, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., announced that she will retire as president of Spelman College at the end of this academic year, effective as of June 30, 2022.

During Dr. Campbell’s tenure as the 10th president of Spelman, she has led the college through transformative change and the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Dr. Campbell joined the Spelman community, major investments have been made in academic programs, technology infrastructure and the renewal of critical facilities on campus to provide students with enhanced learning opportunities and the best environment to support their growth. The college continues to be ranked by U.S. News and World Report as No. 1 among historically Black colleges and universities, No. 54 among national liberal arts colleges, and No. 4 among top performers in social mobility, and, according to the National Science Foundation, it has maintained a reputation as the nation’s leading producer of Black women scientists.

“When I joined Spelman in 2015, I felt called to come and do my part to make a meaningful contribution to the 140-year history of this extraordinary College,” said Dr. Campbell. “I have loved every minute of serving as the president of this phenomenal institution and am proud to retire having made meaningful impacts on our academic strength, financial future and physical campus. While the decision to retire was not easy, I feel confident that Spelman is well-equipped to continue the work of building this community of purpose and preparing Black women to become global leaders who will choose to change the world.”

Dr. Campbell gained a national presence in the course of her tenure at Spelman and was recently ranked among’s top 50 college and university presidents in the country. As a result of Dr. Campbell’s leadership, Spelman has:

  • Attracted and retained some of the best talent in academia to its faculty and leadership team
  • Added five new endowed professorships to continue faculty retention and recruitment of outstanding faculty
  • Reached more than 100 percent of its capital campaign goal to raise $250 million in only four years
  • Experienced impressive endowment growth, with it now approaching $500 million
  • Secured funding for upgrading existing facilities and building the College’s first new academic facility in more than 20 years.
  • Expanded Spelman’s reach into the West End community with its programs in the Atlanta Public Schools to enhance literacy and math proficiency.

“I speak on behalf of the entire Spelman College Board of Trustees when I say we deeply appreciate  Dr. Campbell’s leadership of the Spelman community,” said Rosalind Brewer, Chair of the Spelman College Board of Trustees and CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance. “The Board has enjoyed an endearing and fruitful partnership with Dr. Campbell, making this transition bittersweet. While we understand and accept Dr. Campbell’s assessment that this is the right time to return to retirement, we will greatly miss her impactful and compassionate leadership.” 

In the coming months, the Board of Trustees will lead a formal and comprehensive search to determine the College’s 11th president. The Board aims to announce the next president by this spring and welcome the new president to campus by the start of the 2022-2023 academic year.

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 & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 54 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 14th 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, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO 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 Spelman College.


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