August 31, 2020

Dear Spelman Community,

What a year and welcome back! On behalf of the Spelman College Board of Trustees, I want to thank each and every student, faculty, staff, alumna, parent, donor and friend for their stalwart support of our beloved institution. While we know beginning the new academic year virtually is not ideal, we thank you for supporting the College and these difficult decisions.

We are grateful for the dedication and determination of each of you to carry out your roles with grace, integrity and compassion in these uncertain times. Our trustees are honored to serve alongside you and share in the commitment to sustain Spelman’s impact in our community, the nation, and the world, even more so in the midst of a global pandemic combined with extreme social unrest and, in some geographies, disastrous wildfires and torrential storms.

In recent years, Spelman has made critical and forward-thinking decisions that have enabled us to support the emotional and physical well-being of our students, deploy the technological and technical resources to address serious challenges quickly and successfully, collaborate effectively across departments, and to skillfully communicate (both internally and externally) our wins, losses and everything in between. Little did we know that this would prepare us for a crisis. In the past couple of months, the campus has demonstrated how adaptable and flexible we can be and has found new ways to sustain Spelman’s core mission, values and important traditions.

As the College faced head on a series of unprecedented challenges this year, the Board met more frequently, and the talents and resources of individual trustees were useful in assisting the academic and administrative units overseeing several complex and critical matters.

We enthusiastically endorsed the faculty vote and senior administration recommendation to suspend the test requirement for this admissions cycle. The Board joined President Mary Schmidt Campbell in cultivating relationships that led to investments like the ones made by Patty Quillin, Reed Hastings, Mackenzie Scott, and the $10 million-dollar gift made to the College earlier this month by Seth and Beth Klarman. The Board continues to seek ways to reduce costs, strengthen governance, increase affordability and enhance our circle of donors and partners.

At our annual meeting this spring, we made several new appointments that we believe will not only strengthen the Board, but we are confident that the contributions they offer during their terms will strengthen the College as well. I hope you will join me in welcoming to the Board Elizabeth Gowans, C’2024, our new student trustee, Cara Johnson Hughes, C’94, Carmen Harris C’2002, Larry Schall, Ph.D., and Pauletta Washington.

Also, we look forward to working with representatives to the Board: Angela Farris Watkins, Ph.D., C’86, Faculty Council president; Fana Haile Selassie, C’2021, Student Government Association president; and Keva Wright Berry, C’79, National Alumnae Association president. We encourage you to be in touch with your elected representatives to give the College feedback and share your thoughts on our progress.

The Board wants to especially acknowledge the dedication of our superb leader, President Campbell. Her intelligence, wisdom, wit, forthrightness, and compassion has proven that she is the leader we need for such a time as this. She has worked around the clock, maintained an openness to good ideas regardless of the source and insisted that she be transparent and accessible, even when the message she is sharing is unpopular or difficult.

We also want to acknowledge and celebrate the undaunted faculty, who in addition to teaching and nurturing our students are closely working with the College leadership to govern under new and unprecedented circumstances. Thanks, as well, to our staff. We don’t always see them at work, but their efforts make Spelman the stellar institution that it is. Staff tend to our endowment, run our switch board, care for the grounds, manage our mail center and keep us safe.

And I personally want to acknowledge my Spelman sisters, who we know will continue to support one another as we continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19 on our community. My heart goes out to the Class of 2020, whose final semester was disrupted to say the least. The Board looks forward to celebrating with you as soon as it is safe to do so!

President Campbell put pen to paper to eloquently describe how the campus came together in response to the impact of COVID-19 and outline why she remains hopeful for Spelman’s future.  In many ways, like many colleges and universities, Spelman, as we have known it, will evolve. Be assured however, that every hard decision [and there will be many] and reimagined activity will be designed with our history, traditions and future legacy in mind.

We have had remarkable donors and friends, including many alumnae, who have stepped up repeatedly throughout the year and continue to do so with joy and a sense of urgency. We take great pride in knowing that, as a village, we will navigate these challenging times and we will continue to call on our local, state and national leaders to prioritize their support of all HBCUs.

In the coming weeks and months, the College will continue to take critical steps to ensure the health and safety of our community and the financial viability of the institution. Based on the best information available, we will make important decisions about the location and format of our instruction, research and operations. Some decisions will be revisited as new information becomes available. We will face these difficult challenges head-on and will keep you informed along the way.

Thank you again for your commitment to and love for Spelman.

Undaunted by the fight,

Rosalind G. Brewer, C’84
Chair, Spelman College Board of Trustees


Office of the President
Phone: 404-270-5001

Fax: 404-270-5010

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