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Spelman College Honors Lee Family Legacy with Admissions Office Dedication Share a Spelman College Press Release

ATLANTA, GA — Today, Spelman College President Dr. Helene Gayle was joined by Spike Lee and his wife Tonya Lewis Lee to rename the College’s Admissions Office in honor of Spike Lee’s grandmother Zimmie Reatha Shelton (Class of 1929) and mother Jacquelyn Shelton Lee (Class of 1954).

Spike Lee, well-known film director, producer and actor, and Tonya Lewis Lee, attorney, filmmaker, author and activist, participated in the dedication ceremony with Dr. Gayle, Spelman faculty, students and staff, which took place outside of Packard Hall. The Admissions Office is located inside of Packard Hall, which previously served as the residence hall for Spike’s grandmother and mother.

“Spelman women are known for their ability to influence and change the world,” said Dr. Gayle, M.D., MPH, 11th president of Spelman College. “We are witnessing the influence of two Spelman alumnae and the legacy work of their grandson and son, respectively, Spike Lee. We are proud to lay claim to some of their aspirations and impact on Spike, through their experiences in this very place during their matriculation at Spelman, including their dorm life at Packard Hall.”

Following the dedication ceremony, Spike and Tonya joined President Gayle for her inaugural broadcast of “Courageous Conversations: Black in the C-Suite”. Courageous Conversations, a production of Spelman College, was created to ensure stories of Black women in leadership are highlighted. Today’s conversation focused on the Lee family’s pathways to social and economic mobility, through health, wealth and education equity and the power of an HBCU education.

This edition of Courageous Conversations will soon be available on Spelman’s website. Previous editions can be viewed here.

Media Contacts: 
Lydia Sermons, 470.898.6451,
Denise Ward, 770.862.4028,

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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 the U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 51 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 5 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 16th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal has 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.

To learn more, please visit and @spelmancollege on social media.


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