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Spelman College

President's Letter to the Community

Welcome to Homecoming 2018!

October 23, 2018

Welcome back to campus alumnae and greetings Spelman faculty, staff and students! Excitement at Spelman is surging as we turn our attention to getting the campus ready for Homecoming.

This year during Homecoming, Spelman College is hosting our first ever Innovation and Technology Summit, a two-day experience where the College acknowledges that a technology revolution, one that is impacting the shape and direction of the 21st century workforce, is well underway.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, financial technology and biotechnology are just a few areas that will experience explosive growth. As a college, we are responding so Spelman students will be global leaders in these fields. Plan to join us for this important Summit that will expose our alumnae, students, faculty and community to the ideas and individuals shaping our future.

I am pleased to report that our strategic plan accounted for this revolution in two of its goals: “Promote Academic Innovation” and “Enhance Operational Excellence.”  In the spirit of promoting academic innovation, several Spelman faculty have received federal research grants that deepen their engagement in many of the fields that will be critical for the 21st century workforce. Their research productivity in data science, machine learning or bioinformatics, to name a few of the areas, in turn introduces our students to cutting-edge areas of research and impacts curriculum development in their respective disciplines.

Another example of academic innovation is the activity around the development of an innovation curriculum. Co-directors of the Innovation Lab, Dr. Jerry Volcy, Brown-Simmons Professor of Computer Science and De Angela Duff, associate professor of Digital Media in the Department of Art and Visual Culture, will join Dr. Topper Carew, who joins us from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, to create the innovation curriculum offerings at Spelman.

With Spelman’s strong commitment to ARTS@Spelman, social justice, as well as technology, the innovation curriculum will expand the number of Spelman students who will be able to engage creatively with technology and explore its use to solve problems in a range of disciplines.

To our academic initiatives, we add our progress on another aspect of our strategic plan and that is “Enhance Operational Excellence.” Campus wide in the last 18 months, “Ascending,” a campaign to upgrade and modernize our technology infrastructure, has been underway.  I am pleased to report that the College has migrated its backup to the Cloud; begun the upgrade of Banner, our central operating system; and created a campus-wide Business Advisory Team to ensure that key business functions are working collaboratively and seamlessly.

Our alumna, Chandra McCrary, C’89, is working with our crackerjack Spelman Technology Services Team (STS) to oversee this transition in her role as interim vice president and chief information officer.

Let me take this opportunity to thank our alumnae Dr. Jane Smith C’68, vice president for College Relations, and Heather Hawes, C’89, director of events operations, who lead our hardworking event operations team, for all of their work on the Summit.  We extend our thanks as well to Spelman trustees Pamela Joseph, Suzanne Shank and Spelman alumnae trustees, Gena Ashe C’83, and Celeste Watkins-Hayes C’96, for their roles in making this Summit the success I know it will be.

And alumnae, welcome back to campus.  I can’t wait to greet you with a Spelman welcome home hug.

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.