Dr. Beverly Tatum discusses the impact of the fundraising campaign on improving Spelman’s curriculum.
Dr. Beverly Tatum, current president of Spelman College, is set to retire next year. But before she passes the baton, she is working on some unfinished business. To accomplish this, she is using the help of alumni.
This summer, Tatum and her team completed a 10-year fundraising campaign. Back in 2004, Tatum set a goal to reach $150 million. But over the course of the campaign, she surpassed that goal, reaching a fundraising milestone of $157.8 million.
But more than the amount of money raised, Tatum stressed the support of the people closest to the school — the alumni. This year, over 7,000 alumni made a contribution.
“Whatever it is they’re doing, alumni are path-breaking,” Tatum said. “They are really demonstrating that the confidence and the empowerment that comes from the HBCU education they received at Spelman has served them well and continues to serve the community well. But at the same time, if those graduates leave and then don’t reinvest, the institution can’t thrive.”
Tatum said a $17 million gift to the Spelman endowment has gone toward funding the Center for Global Education. It is Tatum’s goal to have every single Spelman student to have an international experience before she graduates. Before the funding, only 50-70 students had access to that opportunity. Now, more than 400 students have taken advantage of travel abroad.
Improving the institution’s curriculum and maintaining the legacy of Spelman is central to education for students of color. “HBCUs are the preservers of African American culture and producers of innovation and creativity,” Tatum said. While she doesn’t know who will follow in her footsteps next year following her retirement, Tatum is sure of her plans. She’ll pen another book that revisits the theme of her 1997 debut, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?