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Spelman College

President's Letter to the Community

Homecoming Convocation Follow-up

November 5, 2018

Dear Mary-Pat, Bintou and Amari,

Thank you for sharing the concerns of Spelman students regarding the Homecoming Convocation. In responding to you, I am also sending to the students who were in attendance at Sisters Chapel on Oct. 25.  As your leader, I offer my sincere apology for any comment that was made by the convocation speaker that offended Spelman students or members of the campus community. It was certainly not our intent to offend anyone when we invited our trustee to speak.

The intent was to showcase work accomplished by a multinational group of women, who are intent on expanding educational opportunities for women. The executive women who launched the not for profit that the speaker described, indeed, were privileged, in that they hold high level, executive positions at a corporation. Culturally, however, they represented a number of countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Canada and the U.S. The mission of their organization, to provide school fees for young girls in elementary school in Kenya and Swaziland, has resulted in the education of 15,000 girls.

That said, some of the observations the speaker made about Africa were mischaracterizations. Your letter to me points out, “at Spelman we are taught whenever we have the opportunity to educate and share with people who do not share the same historic background as us who have offended us, we should do just that. To ensure they do not do so in the future.”  That perspective is core to a Spelman education. I applaud the Spelman students who spoke up and spoke out at the convocation.

Thank you,

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.