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Spelman College

President's Letter to the Community

Welcome Back!

January 16, 2019


Welcome back Spelman community and happy new year!

This year is getting off to a groundbreaking start. We began with a history-making new class in Congress, including more women and more people of color than any other time in this country.

These gains in diversifying the House of Representatives would not have been possible without the commitment and hard work of so many Americans, including members of the Spelman College community. We thank you for your work, registering students to vote, working at the polls and participating in events like When We All Vote. Civic engagement was robust at Spelman last semester, through the midterm elections and beyond.

In her run as the first Black woman gubernatorial candidate in the country, our own Stacey Abrams, C'95, fearlessly swept through Georgia and inspired the nation. We congratulate her and celebrate her courage, brilliance and moral clarity.

Over the holiday break, I was excited to see our scholars participating in SAGE, the Student Affairs Global Experience, in Italy. Visits to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Leaning Tower of Pisa and Vatican City spurred discussions about the interplay of church and state, women in ministry, and the economics of the slave trade and the role of power in Italy.

SAGE Students in Italy 2018

As Spelman continues to engage in cutting edge research, I am thrilled to report that the College has received a significant grant from the Department of Defense Under Secretary of Defense to engage the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in supporting faculty and student training and research in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Faculty will learn AI/ML to enhance their research efforts. Students will have intensive summer opportunities in which they will be able to take mathematics and programming courses and receive an introduction to AI/ML through hands-on project modules. The goal is for Spelman to become a center where faculty and students from the Atlanta University Center and other state and local HBCUs and minority serving institutions can be trained in AI/ML.

At the end of last semester, I shared the winner of our Community Day brainstorming session to develop fundraising ideas. The winner, "I Am Spelman," allows anyone—faculty, staff, students, trustees, parents, grandparents, alumnae, and friends of the College—to state why they love Spelman and why others should love (and give!) to Spelman, as well. Congratulations to each of those in the group who developed this winning idea: Jihan Lang, Karen Roberts, Paulette Myers-Ervin, Toni Shavers, Brenda Dalton and Toni Bridgewater.

As we approach our annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, it is no surprise that the Spelman community will be engaged in service and recognition of the importance of Dr. King's legacy, in Atlanta and beyond. On Friday, Jan. 11, Mary Pat Hector, C’2019, was the keynote speaker for Agnes Scott College’s Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Human Rights and Social Justice Convocation.

Spelman's Board Chair Rosalind Brewer, C'84, will be the keynote for the City of Clarkston's "Leaving a Legacy of Non-Violence in Atlanta" event on Monday, Jan. 21, where there will also be volunteer opportunities. That same day, I will celebrate the MLK holiday with a keynote to the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs on the topic, “Education: The New Civil Rights Movement?”

During Spelman’s annual MLK Day of Service, volunteer opportunities will include meal packing at Open Hand Atlanta, sorting at Books for Africa, creating literacy kits on campus for elementary school students, gardening at the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, planting at Truly Living Well, and completing a mural that highlights Black history and civil rights at Douglas High School with former faculty member Charmaine Minniefield.

For more information about Spelman’s MLK Day of Service or for transportation to the Leaving a Legacy of Non-Violence in Atlanta event, please connect with the Bonner Office of Civic Engagement.

We'd love to know how you're celebrating and honoring Dr. King this year. Please share photos and descriptions of your activities with us by tweeting me at @SpelmanPres and connecting with us across Spelman's social media platforms using the hashtag #SpelmanMLKDay.

I'm looking forward to engaging with you in continuing to uplift what Dr. King called our "beloved community."

Have a wonderful semester!

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.