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Spelman College

President's Letter to the Community

Imagine. Invent. Ascend: An End-of-Year Progress Report on Spelman College

December 21, 2018


As we prepare to enjoy the holiday break, we can all be proud of an abundance of accomplishments on the part of our Spelman College community.

Spelman student excellence has been on full display, all year long. Our students were named Fulbright, Marshall and Schwarzman Scholars. They presented research at the National Association of Mathematicians. They were fierce advocates for voting rights and determined activists during the mid-term elections. A hardworking, dedicated Student Government Association supported our significant technology upgrades and energized campus electoral activities. Our students traveled the world as part of their academic experience, accounting, in part, for the College's receipt of the 2018 Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion in International Education Award.

Academic excellence depends on excellent faculty. The College's top tier faculty landed numerous grants from such organizations as the National Science Foundation, the Naval Research Laboratory and the Commerce Club Foundation. They've been named to national boards of organizations, including the National Women's History Museum. The film of one of our faculty leaders was chosen for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Committed teachers and pedagogical innovators, Spelman faculty were lauded, as well, for their research on topics as diverse as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, teaching and learning strategies that impact Black women, and the effects of the environment on breast cancer.

The College welcomed several new leaders this year, including Vice President for Student Affairs Darryl Holloman, Innovation Lab Co-Director De Angela Duff, and the gifted playwright, Will Power, as a Distinguished Professor in Arts. Dr. Cheryl Finley, associate professor of Art History at Cornell, and Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims, former curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and former executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, joined Spelman as senior advisers to our Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History and Curatorial Studies, currently under development. The AUC Collective was funded this year by a generous grant from the Walton Family Foundation. Additionally, Dr. Topper Carew, a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab, became a senior adviser to the development of Spelman's Innovation curriculum.

ARTS@Spelman has launched exciting new majors like Documentary Filmmaking and Photography. Our Education Department added a Teacher Certification Preparation Program and this year at Homecoming, our College Relations division produced our first, highly successful Technology & Innovation Summit. A food justice symposium allowed the College to showcase its thriving Food Studies Program and a grant from the Mellon Foundation will enable our legendary Women's Research and Resource Center to develop an Institute for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. Our continuing commitment to making Spelman a welcoming campus for everyone received a boost with a Department of Justice grant to our Title IX Office to expand education and prevention programs.

This year, as always, our alumnae were shining stars. Spelman Trustee Colleen Taylor, C'90, was named to the Ebony Power 100 List, Stacey Abrams, C'95, ran a historic race as the country's first Black woman gubernatorial candidate. Tayari Jones, C'91, published what has become the best-selling "An American Marriage," and LaTanya Richardson Jackson, C'74, returned to Broadway in the acclaimed "To Kill a Mockingbird."

A great year was capped with a transformative gift from our generous trustee Ronda Stryker and her spouse William Johnston to build the first new academic facility at Spelman in over 20 years, the Center for Innovation & the Arts, designed by the Chicago architect, Jeanne Gang. Our FY18 academic year closed with a record-breaking fundraising total of $48M for the year. And our mighty Spelman Technology Services team shepherded the College through a major modernization process, including the upgrade of Banner, our school's central operating system.

On a personal note, I published "An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden." I am enjoying immensely the engagement with Spelman friends and alumnae as the book tour progresses.

Overall, the College continued to rise in the U.S. News and World Report rankings (tying for 51 in liberal arts and remaining the No. 1 HBCU for the 12th year) and we enjoyed a record number of applications (over 9,000). We look forward to 2019, when we begin the year with "Amy Sherald," a new exhibition at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.

As 2018 comes to an end, please know that you have my deepest appreciation for everything you do to make Spelman soar.

Looking forward to an exciting 2019, I wish you peace and good tidings this holiday season and a joyous New Year!


Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.