Spelman College President Announces Retirement Next Year

Spelman College President Announces Retirement Next Year

On July 9, 2014, the president of one of the most important colleges for African American women, Beverly Tatum of Spelman College, announced she would step down next year. Spelman will retire on June 30, 2015. She helmed the school through a fruitful ten year-long fundraising campaign. Dr. Tatum announced this news in conjunction with the announcement on the campaign’s total results. This total amounted to a record-breaking $157.8 million raised and the participation of 71 percent of alumnae (i.e. 12,000 graduates of Spelman College). As I’m sure you can imagine, the academic world was surprised to hear that the Spelman College President announces retirement next year.

Dr. Tatum was appointed president in 2002 and initiated a long-awaited renovation of the college’s Sisters Chapel. Aside from the money raised, Tatum created the Gordon-Zeto Center for International Education. This construction was feasible thanks to a $17 million donation. Dr. Tatum also created a social justice fellows program and built an ultra-modern wellness facility on campus.

Dr. Tatum, who turns 60 this year, stated, “as the campaign closes and I prepare to enter a new decade in my life, it presents a natural time for transition. It is a great time to pass the baton to a new leader, and I am ready to return to my writing.” Rosalind Brewer, the Chair of the college’s Board of Trustees, commented on Dr. Tatum’s departure. Rosalind stated that she applauds the current Spelman College President for her “exemplary leadership.” In addressing the future, Ms. Brewer said that the time has come “not to rest on our laurels, but to build on these accomplishments. As we look ahead, we take pride in the history of strong leadership that has distinguished Spelman College, and we intend to continue that tradition moving forward. It’s an exciting time.”

Spelman College President Announces Retirement Next YearSpelman College serves as one of the most prestigious liberal arts schools in the country, according to the U.S. News & World Report. It also holds historic significance. The four-year, all female college in Atlanta, Georgia, was the fourth chartered black female higher learning institution. Spelman College received its credentials in 1924. Spelman was founded in 1881. It is one of the oldest colleges for African American women in the United States. Many people have often described it as the Radcliffe, Wellesley or Smith University of the African-American culture. It consistently ranks high in charts of the best colleges in its region, as well as in the country. The Pulitzer prize winning Alice Walker and Evelynn M. Hammonds, the Dean of Harvard College, are among the notable personalities to have graduated from Spelman.

Beverly Tatum hails from a prestigious academic background. She possesses a B.A. in Psychology from Wesleyan University, an M.A. in Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan. Aside from this, she also holds a slew of honorary degrees from prestigious schools all over the United States. These schools include Bates College, Washington University, and Lee University. Prior to serving as the president of Spelman College, Ms. Tatum taught at Westfield State University, the University of California – Santa Barbara, and Mount Holyoke College. At Mount Holyoke, she served as the psychology department chair, the dean of the college, and the acting president (in 2002). Aside from her impressive academic resume, Tatum also authored several significant studies on race and racial assimilation. These works include Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation (2007) and “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity (1997).

Dr. Beverly Tatum was also one of the four recipients of last year’s Carnegie Academic Leadership Award. Dr. Tatum was both the first recipient from Georgia and the first from a historically black higher learning institution. Her retirement announcement follows a similar announcement made by Carlton Brown, President of Atlanta University. Spelman College has yet to express any plans to replace Dr. Tatum. Her departure marks the end of an era for historically black colleges. Judging by Spelman’s impressive roster of presidents past, the college will likely continue to make strides for female, African-American academics in the United States.

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