June 30, 2022

Dear Spelman Community,

You last heard directly from me at the start of the 2021 academic year, following the announcement of President Mary Schmidt Campbell’s retirement. On this, her last day as the 10th president of Spelman College, I am writing to you again to reiterate the Board of Trustees’ heartfelt gratitude and admiration for Dr. Campbell and all she accomplished during her presidency.

She fulfilled a five-year strategic plan by greatly expanding scholarship opportunities for our deserving students and endowed faculty positions for Spelman’s outstanding faculty — launching bold new academic programs and partnerships, catalyzing a campus wide digital transformation, and raising funds for new and upgraded academic facilities. President Campbell also attracted new talent to the College and developed a leadership team; together the team prioritized professional development and succession planning to strengthen recruiting and retention efforts.

As you know, to honor her remarkable service, our newest academic building, upon completion, will be named the Mary Schmidt Campbell Center for Innovation and the Arts. We hope to welcome her back for the grand opening in 2024, and we wish her the best in all her future endeavors.

While President Campbell was busy managing the College and exceeding the Spelman Ascends capital campaign goal, the Board, with the assistance of a Presidential Search Committee (PSC), set out to identify Spelman’s next leader. With the capable guidance of the PSC chair and co-chair, Trustees Kaye Foster and Gena Ashe, C’83, and the dedicated Search Committee members who were fully invested in the process, the Board was able to appoint a leader with the background and experience that exceeded the characteristics outlined in the position specification with input from many Spelman stakeholders.

On July 1, 2022, we will officially welcome Helene Gayle, M.D., MPH to our Spelman family as the 11th president of Spelman College. A pediatrician and public health expert, with a career dedicated to eradicating inequities in health and wealth, Dr. Gayle’s appointment is timely. Her life’s work in underserved communities, empowering women, and growing the capacity of well-known mission-driven institutions is inspiring. She is a proven executive who is credited with numerous accomplishments at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CARE and most recently at the Chicago Community Trust, where she was instrumental in growing the Trust’s assets to $4.5 billion.

The Board is looking forward to nurturing a relationship with her that enables new and exciting opportunities for the College. I, personally, have a deep respect for her courage, compassion, honor and generosity. The totality of her professional career, personal values and desire to devote herself to the young women of Spelman will serve her well as the institution’s next leader. To mark this historic occasion, the College will broadcast greetings from Dr. Gayle tomorrow.

We welcome her back to Atlanta, where she has spent much of her professional life, with great enthusiasm and know you will join the Board in our commitment to be thoughtful and helpful as she navigates this first year — collaborating with crucial partners, exploring our cultures and traditions, identifying strategic priorities and addressing critical issues.

The Trustees met several times throughout the year to fulfill our responsibilities for the assets of the College, including its students, property, business and financial affairs, as well as the overall fulfillment of the College’s mission and strategic direction. We thank faculty and staff for their dedication. They have been inspiring partners, especially as we made the transition to in-person teaching, learning, research, service and campus operations. Spelman’s identity and significance as a residential college has and will continue to play an essential role in the quality of our accomplishments and impact, even as the strategic use of various learning modalities becomes more prevalent.

We were so pleased to be able to return to an in-person Board meeting this spring and to have an opportunity to engage with faculty and students face-to-face. Every trustee including our newest members, local attorney Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, C’93, and Mr. Frank Baker, co-founder and managing partner of Siris Capital -- cites the stellar students and faculty as a key reason they love volunteering their time, talents and resources to Spelman, I remain appreciative that we continued to maintain our 100% giving record and trustee engagement remained high, even throughout the pandemic. I want to publicly thank our Trustees and the representatives to the Board, Ms. Keva Wright Berry, Dr. Angela Farris Watkins, and Ms. Jillian Jackson, for their sacrifices and hard work. They make my job easy and rewarding.

We want you to know that the new presidential transition will not alter our goals related to campus planning, including the construction and renovation of residence halls. To that end, we are developing a ten-year BLUEprint for identifying and addressing other space and infrastructure needs. We remain focused on expanding alternative sources of revenue to increase affordability and we have launched several new initiatives to enhance career and graduate placements. We are excited that interest in Spelman among prospective students and their families remains high and we are dedicated to maintaining Spelman’s status as a top-tier institution by expanding the capacity for academic innovation and operational excellence.

The College made significant progress under the leadership of Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, our 10th president
. She was helped by stellar senior team members who are focused on ensuring a smooth transition. Ms. Helga Greenfield, associate vice president of Government Relations, director of Title III and chief of staff to the president, will join Dr. Campbell in retirement. Her prowess with securing funding helped introduce new academic initiatives, supported our digital transformation and enabled faculty support for both research and teaching. We want to assure the faculty, who earlier this year celebrated AVP Greenfield’s role in securing tens of millions of dollars, that the Board is attuned to the significance of this funding on the College’s operations. President Gayle has been meeting regularly with President Emerita Campbell and will meet with Ms. Greenfield before she retires. Ensuring continuity and collaboration with internal and external funding partners is one of Dr. Gayle’s highest priorities.

In the coming months, as the current strategic plan draws to a close, President Gayle will share with the Trustees her thinking about the development of the College’s next five-year strategic vision. It will be one that builds on and expands Spelman’s current momentum. She will develop a planning process that allows for the participation of the College’s major stakeholders and places students, teaching and learning at its core. Working with the Spelman community, our new leader will stake out new frontiers for Spelman.

I always take the opportunity to let you know how appreciative I am for each of you. As Chair of Spelman’s Board, I am privileged to carry out my role with the assistance of a community of supporters and friends who are equally committed to Spelman’s success. As an alumna, I cannot be prouder of how our community is changing lives and changing the world.

Have a wonderful and productive summer! The Board and I are anticipating an exciting new academic year and look forward to joining you in welcoming the Class of 2026 to our beloved community.


Rosalind Gates Brewer, C'84,
Chair, Spelman College Board of Trustees

Office of the President

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