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Spelman President Helene Gayle Shares Successes, Future Plans During State of the College Address Share a Spelman College Press Release

On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, Spelman College President Helene D. Gayle, M.D., MPH, delivered her State of the College address – recounting an academic year of notable achievements, special initiatives, faculty achievements and plans for the College’s future.

Dr. Gayle offered faculty and staff attendees a snapshot of higher education today – touching on issues like artificial intelligence, rising housing costs, politics and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that affect colleges and universities. She also set the stage to showcase where Spelman presently stands in the areas of college finances, facilities, infrastructure, academics and the student experience. She also acknowledged faculty and staff for their hard work and dedication to the College and its mission.

“Also, I want to start with just a big ‘thank you’ to all of you who are in this audience and all of you who are represented by the people here in the audience. As you know, we couldn’t do what we do without the incredible faculty and staff we have.”

Dr. Gayle went on to highlight some of the College’s top projects, partnerships, initiatives and accomplishments that the help exemplify the Spelman difference, including the AUC-GRANTED initiative, Spelman being named one of Georgia’s most beautiful campuses, the College’s 35th annual Research Day, the renovation of the Rockefeller Arts building, the expansion of the cosmetic science program and the College’s 17 Gilman Scholars.

“This is just a little bit of the kinds of things that I think we pride ourselves on continuing to provide the kind of quality across the board in academics, in our facilities, in our student experience, etcetera.”

In addition, she also recognized this year’s newly tenured and promoted faculty and Presidential Faculty Award winners.

Regarding the student experience, Dr. Gayle  highlighted aspects like student participation in the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament, the return of intramural sports, a more established relationship between Spelman Pathways and Braven and the College’s Goldman Sachs Market Madness team, which won the $1 million first place prize in this year’s competition.

The President shared that enrollment at Spelman remains consistent, with the number of students deciding to choose Spelman on the rise. Student retention rates also remain in the 80th percentile. Dr. Gayle shared data related to student post-graduate placement, highlighting that most Spelmanites are choosing continuing education, gap year and employment opportunities following their time at Spelman.

“We continue to do very well in terms of retaining [students] and also in terms of our graduation rate. We’ve had some years where we’ve had some slight uptick in academic probation, but again, overall, those numbers are quite low.”

The address also elevated Spelman’s plans for improvement including technology infrastructure, workplace culture and space utilization as the College continues “planning for a 21st century campus” that students need to thrive educationally and personally.

Dr. Gayle closed her address by providing an update on the College’s new strategic plan, Elevated, which is supported by the pillars Empowering Excellence and Inspiring Change.

“The 'Empowering Excellence' is really all about how do we make sure that, within Spelman College, we continue to excel and move towards greater and greater excellence. 'Inspiring change' is looking at how do we take Spelman as an institution and think about how Spelman can create change in the broader society,” said Dr. Gayle.

Designed to ensure that Spelman continues its charge of being the premier undergraduate institution for women of African descent and the center of intellectual inquiry on global issues (particularly those impacting people in the African Diaspora) the strategic plan will also ensure the College keeps positive social change, innovation, academic excellence and institutional agility at the forefront of its efforts for years to come.


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