March 17, 2020

Dear Spelman Seniors,

There have been a number of significant developments in the City of Atlanta, the state of Georgia and in our country in the past few days. The impact of COVID-19 has led the mayor of Atlanta to declare a state of emergency in the city; the governor of Georgia to place the state under a public health state of emergency; and the White House to issue a national state of emergency.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counsels physical distancing - staying at least 6 feet away from the next person - as a means of slowing the rate of infection or " flattening the curve." In recognition of this guidance, Spelman is doing its part to reduce the need for gatherings. Specifically, the federal government is recommending limiting gatherings to those that are fewer than 10 people; instructing businesses either to reduce their hours or close altogether; and imploring organizations like schools and churches to provide services virtually.

With the health and wellness of our community in mind, Spelman has had to make some important decisions. As you are aware, we will transition to a remote learning environment next week and we're in discussion about tele-working options for employees. We are also having to consider how to address events.

Every spring, we all look forward to the suite of end-of-year events, the high point of the Spelman academic year. The events we celebrate at the end of the year mark major milestones in the lives of our students, faculty, staff and alumnae. They are moments for us to pause and consider the hard work, sacrifice, accomplishments and promise of you, our graduating seniors. Commencement is a momentous rite of passage that heralds your transition from Spelman student into a permanent member of the Spelman alumnae sisterhood. Whenever I see a graduating senior walk under the Alumnae Arch, I know that she is entering a lifetime of lasting relationships, connections and community.

We cherish all of the ceremonies and activities that accompany Commencement - Baccalaureate, Class Day, Senior Soiree - and cannot imagine a year without them. For that reason, Spelman is giving careful consideration as to how we might honor this milestone and marker in your lives and still stay within the boundaries of prudent and responsible public health behaviors. An idea that we are considering is creating a virtual ceremony for Commencement and other similar events. Another idea is to postpone the ceremony until the health crisis has passed. We invite your thoughts as we begin to put into place plans for a celebration. This year’s in-person celebration is postponed until such alternative plans have been finalized.

Thank you as we all cross this bridge over troubled waters together.

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
President, Spelman College


Office of the President
Phone: 404-270-5001

Fax: 404-270-5010

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