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$12M Gift from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation to Support the Center for Innovation & the Arts at Spelman College Share a Spelman College Press Release


Jazmyn Burton
Spelman College


A $12 million gift from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation will place Spelman College closer to opening the doors of a state-of-the-art academic facility designed to bring creative disciplines, technology, and innovation into close collaboration.

“Spelman College is an exceptional institution,'' said Russ Hardin, president of the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation. “We are pleased to support the Center for Innovation & the Arts with a grant that will allow Spelman to fulfill its ambitions in arts, technology and innovation.”  

The Center is designed to become a catalyst for interdisciplinary interaction by clustering together numerous arts departments, now scattered across the campus, to create a vibrant community of innovators, collaborators, artists, musicians, and scientists.  

“The rapid convergence of art, technology, and entrepreneurship with the liberal arts and sciences are beginning to yield new solutions to old challenges," said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. "This new facility will be a dynamic learning environment that encourages Spelman students to master their chosen fields, and utilize technology inspired solutions to solve persistent urban problems." 

This is the second largest gift that the College has received in support of the Center. In December 2018, The Center received its largest contribution; a $30 million gift from Ronda Stryker and her husband Bill Johnston. To date the College has raised $81.5 million toward the completion of the building.

“The Center stands to redefine the way the arts are accessed at Spelman and lead to groundbreaking, cross-disciplinary discoveries,” said Trustee Lovette Twyman Russell, C '83.

“Spelman is one of the greatest assets to Atlanta and I’m happy to know that one of the city’s most influential foundations wants to invest in the success of our students by supporting the new Center for Innovation & the Arts,” said Russell. “The College’s demonstrated strength in STEM, coupled with its extraordinary assets in the arts, position Spelman to become an epicenter for artistic expression and digital innovation.”

The Center will be the home to Spelman’s existing Innovation Lab, the forthcoming Center for Black Entrepreneurship and will include a “ front porch” atrium that will link Spelman to its Westside community. Complete with community-facing spaces such as a second gallery for the Spelman Museum of Fine Art, "The Porch" will also include a dance performance studio, a high-tech digital black box theatre and a small café/retail outlet that faces a public plaza. 

The Center will also include several digital media and gaming labs, and a multi-purpose classroom/event space. On the upper two levels of the building, a double-height atrium is envisioned as a multi-zoned area to enhance learning, teaching, practice, and the exchange of ideas across disciplines.

Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans was a generous philanthropist and accomplished businesswoman. She was the wife of Joseph B. Whitehead, one of the original bottlers of Coca-Cola.  Gifts to Spelman from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation and associated Woodruff and Whitehead Foundations over the last six decades total more than $36 million.  

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. 24 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 15th 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 collaborations 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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