January 16, 2020

Dear Spelman Community,

I want to publicly extend my heartfelt thanks to all of the faculty, staff and members of the Class of 2020 for your robust response to the Commencement Selection Committee’s request for suggestions for speakers for our May 17, 2020, ceremony.  

I am thrilled to report that the Committee received names from graduating seniors, faculty, and staff; it has been a true community effort. The Committee reviewed 42 individuals and forwarded 10 names to the Office of the President.

To get to the list of 10, the committee answered the following questions:

  • Do their accomplishments align with the Spelman College mission?
  • Have their personal and professional activities had an impact, beyond personal success, to improve the lives of others?
  • Do the nominees' achievements represent sustained efforts over the course of their careers?
  • Will they serve as an outstanding model for our graduates across a range of academic, personal and career interests?
  • Will honor be brought to Spelman should the nominee accept the speaking invitation?

The Committee and I agreed that the final outcome will be informed by 1) additional vetting to verify alignment with Spelman’s values and mission; 2) the accessibility and availability of the individual; 3) associated costs (Spelman does not pay speaker fees); 4) synergy with other institutional priorities and 5) if relevant, any information gleaned from a prior invitation, response, and any past presentations to the Spelman community.

I am very grateful for the Committee's service (see members list below) and for their feedback on how to improve the process going forward.


Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.

Commencement Selection Committee Members:
Thompson, LaKayla - president, Senior Class Council
Langham, Jaida - vice president, Senior Class Council
Burns, Kristin-  Humanities Division, English major
DeLoach, Kyra - Social Sciences and Education Division, Psychology major and Bonner Scholar
Miller, Taylor -  Natural Sciences and Math Division, Physics major and president of the Physics Club
Wilson, Jada - Arts Division, art/ art history major, Spanish Club, member of the Creatives of Color executive board
Dean Desiree Pedescleaux – Senior Class Advisor
Angela Farris Watkins -  Head Faculty Marshal
Cynthia Spence – Faculty Marshal
Terri Reed – Vice President and Secretary of the College

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