Christmas came early for Spelman College.
School officials at the Atlanta, GA-based HBCU told the Atlanta Journal Constitution this week, that it was in receipt of a $30 million dollar gift from school trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband William Johnston. The report noted that the money will be used for a Center for Innovation & the Arts.
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“As former educators who believe strongly in social justice, Bill and I have great appreciation for how Spelman provides a superior education for students that encourages them to be global change agents,” Stryker said in a statement. The generous donor serves as the director of the medical equipment company Stryker Corp.
Spelman plans to use the new center to house the school’s art programs, including art history, dance, digital media, and theatre among others. They also hope the space helps to connect the larger Atlanta community by offering public plays and events. With a $30 million dollar donation, the school is closer to funding the $86 million dollar project.
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“With this historic gift, yet again, Ronda’s support will be transformational,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said of the monumental donation. “Her contribution ensures that Spelman students will be prepared to tackle the challenges of our changing world through innovation, creativity and the dynamic intersection of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.”
Historically Black colleges have often been overlooked and overshadowed for large endowments. In fact, the AJC reports that the last time a gift of this size was given to Spelman, was in 1992 and on behalf of the estate of deceased Readers Digest founder DeWitt Wallace.
Still, HBCU’s contributions to the nation’s landscape cannot be denied. Just last year a landmark study titled HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities showed that the total economic impact of HBCU spending in the United States is $14.8 billion dollars annually. Enrollment at these treasured institutions also continues to rise.
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