About Us: President's Office

Spelman College

President's Letters to the Community

Good News at Spelman

October 20, 2016

Dear Spelman Community,

As usual, our campus is buzzing with lots of fall activities. We kicked off the academic year with a voter registration drive that signed up 400 new voters. Pearl Cleage, C'71, and our student leaders, Spelman Student Government Association President Imani Dixon, C'2017, SSGA Co-director of Leadership and Civic Engagement Mary-Pat Hector, C'2019, and the Young Democrats of America, drove the successful effort.

Last weekend the Student Independent Scholars, led by SIS Oral History Project Founder Gloria Wade Gayles, Ph.D., held a Voting With the Elders forum, and last evening, the SSGA hosted another Debate Watch Party. These are just a sample of the many events keeping the Spelman community engaged in the political process.

I write now to share updates about Spelman's rankings, community accolades, and some of the exciting new events taking place on campus.

Spelman in the Rankings

Spelman continues to receive national recognition in leading university and college rankings.
  • For the 10th year in a row, Spelman has been recognized as the No. 1 HBCU by U.S. News & World Report, which also listed us in the top 100 liberal arts colleges that high school counselors think offer the best undergraduate education to their students.
  • In its inaugural national ranking of 800 colleges and universities, focusing on student engagement, outcomes and learning environments, the Wall Street Journal listed Spelman at No. 105, tied with Syracuse University and University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • We also earned top positions in several other rankings, from Teach for America to BestColleges.com and Sierra Magazine.

Community Accolades

Faculty & Staff

  • Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ph.D., C'66, director of the Women's Research and Resource Center and the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies, was recently announced as co-chair of the National Black Justice Coalition's HBCU LGBTQ Equality Initiative Advisory Council.
  • The Society of Georgia Archivists named Spelman College Archives Assistant Kassandra Ware, C’2019, the 2016 recipient of the Taronda Spencer Award. Named for a former Spelman archivist, alumna and SGA board member, the award recognizes undergraduate students with a keen interest in archival work.
  • Awards from the National Science Foundation

- Brandeis Marshall, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science, received a $399,903 grant to provide data science training to faculty at Spelman and Morehouse colleges.

- Angelino Viceisza, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics, has been awarded a $199,766 grant to study migrant remittances using eye-tracking technology.

- Leyte Winfield, Ph.D., associate professor of organic chemistry, chair of chemistry and biochemistry, and interim associate provost of research, was awarded a $1,166,831 grant to study students’ self-regulated engagement and metacognitive skillfulness in chemistry courses. Lisa Hibbard, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, will be collaborating with Dr. Winfield on the project.


  • Ashley Reid, C’2017, and Brianna Fugate, C’2018, were named 2016 HBCU All-Stars by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • Four Spelman students - Princeanna Price, C’2017, Shaquette Spencer, C’2017, Melaine Ferdinand-King, C’2018, and Dru Spiller, C’2017 - and Sarah RudeWalker, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, recently presented scholarship and perspectives at an international conference on the Black Arts Movement at Dillard University.
  • Jillian Lea, C’2018, and Amirah Anderson, C’2019, are among the first class of campus organizers selected to promote GirlTrek, a national health movement that encourages Black women and girls to improve their health and become changemakers in their communities through daily walking.

Title IX

On the Title IX front, we continue the development and evolution of our educational efforts and staff devoted to addressing sexual and gender based violence. As promised in my last communication, I have provided an update on our progress. I encourage you to review the attached letter for more details on this front.

Health Sciences Academy

In the area of career development, Spelman students will benefit from the Undergraduate Health Sciences Academy recently announced by Morehouse School of Medicine. The Academy, created with the support of a $3 million grant from Kaiser Permanente, was designed to help underrepresented students enter graduate-level study in the health and biomedical field by providing critical tutoring, mentoring, hands-on research and support for current undergraduates at Atlanta University Center schools. As Spelman continues to cultivate women leaders who will bring their distinct histories and heritages to encourage modern, scholarly perspectives in the fields of STEM, we look forward to partnering with Morehouse School of Medicine on this important initiative.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

I am pleased to announce that Spelman has become a member of the campus consortium group with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. This membership provides the College with access to world-renowned journalists who will periodically visit the campus for workshops and lectures, as well as access to compete for a $15,000 crisis reporting fellowship that enables study abroad for an aspiring journalist.

Community Work of the Spelman Student Government Association

Our SSGA, with assistance from Spelman's Office of the President, College Relations and Student Affairs, has formed Westside Stand Up, a group of Spelman and AUC students who are concerned about the re-development of the Westside Atlanta community. Westside Stand Up has developed a thoughtful set of action items that would positively impact the revitalization of the Westside community, where the AUC is located. They are offering their ideas to the city's redevelopment agency. Our goal is to see the community around us become a vibrant college town.

Special Events

Alice Walker Visit

This year we had the distinct honor of welcoming to campus Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, poet and activist Alice Walker as the Andrew Mellon Artist-in-Residence. Ms. Walker attended Spelman from 1961-1963. During her three day visit to campus, she attended several classes, joined the President's Book Circle for an evening, shared fellowship with students at the Women's Research and Resource Center, and delivered a stirring speech to our students in a packed Sisters Chapel. Dr. Sheftall, a long time friend of Ms. Walker, co-sponsored the event along with the Office of the Provost and the Office of the President.

Gun Violence Forum

The College has hosted several events around justice this fall, including the kick off for the Environmental Justice Lecture Series, led by associate professor and chair of political science, Fatemeh Shafiei, Ph.D., and the third in the Faculty Inaugural Symposium Series, "Black Women Mapping the City," which featured discussion and exploration of Detroit, led by Mona Taylor Phillips, Ph.D., professor and chair of the sociology and anthropology department, and Aku Kadogo, chair of the department of drama. On Oct. 15, Spelman hosted Deadly Consequences: A Community Discussion on Gun Violence at the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center. The forum was the outcome of a letter that I and more than 35 HBCU presidents signed that focused on the impact of gun violence in our communities. Our Social Justice Program, directed by Cynthia Neal Spence, Ph.D., C'78, co-hosted the event that featured a keynote from Dr. Deborah Prothrow Stith, C'75, public health scholar activist and practitioner, who shared the stark national picture of the impact of violence and opportunities for advocacy around this important issue. Dr. Stith also led a powerful conversation with local mothers of victims of gun violence, and Social Justice Scholars shared their insights and creative advocacy as well.

Annual Arts & Entertainment Summit

This year's Homecoming will include the 3rd annual Arts & Entertainment Summit Oct. 27-28. Spelman students will have the opportunity to interact with Spelman alumnae and professionals who have been successful in a variety of non-performing areas, including trending new media, producing, casting, marketing and entertainment law. This year there will be a "Pitch Fest" and innovative YouTube phenom Issa Rae will be on campus with the entire cast of her new HBO series, "Insecure," for a screening and Q&A. Later this fall, Janelle Monae and Pharrell Williams will be on campus for a conversation with students about their roles in the film "Hidden Figures." Williams serves as the film's producer and Monae portrays one of the African-American women who worked at NASA in the 1960s calculating trajectories to launch astronauts into orbit and travel to the moon.

Spelman College Glee Club Live Performance with Dance Theatre of Harlem

The Dance Theatre of Harlem will grace the stage at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre with our own Spelman College Glee Club for two live performances on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23. The Glee Club's 75 singers will accompany "Change" choreographed by Dianne McIntyre, a former Spelman College Distinguished Visiting Scholar, and will perform a number of musical selections.

Election Activities

I invite you to continue participating in the slate of events and activities in the Spelman community around the 2016 presidential election. Upcoming are Electoral Conversations on student debt, transportation and education, as well as a march to the polls and our Election Lock In. Remember early voting has started, so you have the opportunity to exercise your rights before Election Day, Nov. 8.

Spelman College Museum

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts celebrates its 20th anniversary with a multidisciplinary exhibition "AFRICA FORECAST: Fashioning Contemporary Life," on display through Dec. 3.The show, curated by Museum Director Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., C'93, and Erika Dalya Massaquoi, Ph.D., explores the art and fashion expressions of 20 women artists and designers from Africa and of African descent who shape, imagine and redefine the influence of art and fashion on everyday life.

With all of these activities, including Homecoming around the corner, it is an exciting time to be at Spelman. Our students inspire us every day with their passion and purpose. Sincerely, 

Mary Schmidt Campbell

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. 
Spelman College 
350 Spelman Lane, SW 
Atlanta, GA 30314-4399