Spelman College, the historically Black educational institution for women in Atlanta, has received a $30 million donation from trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband William Johnston, The gift is the largest from a living donor in the 137-year history of the college.
The gift will be used to help fund the construction of the Center for Innovation and the Arts on the Spelman campus. When completed the building will house all of the college’s arts programs – art, art history, curatorial studies, dance, digital media, documentary filmmaking, photography, music and theater – in a single building.
Stryker has been a member of the college’s board of trustees for more than 20 years. She currently serves as vice chair.
In making the donation, Stryker stated: “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. Spelman alumnae are leaders across every field imaginable, breaking new ground, while tackling some of the world’s most challenging issues from health disparities to the digital divide. We are thrilled to support a building that will encourage students to master technology, innovation and the arts.”
Stryker is a board member at Stryker Corporation, a medical equipment company and vice chair of Greenleaf Trust, an investment banking firm.
Isiah Thomas, a former star in the National Basketball Association, is partnering with Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens to encourage athletes, entertainers, and other successful people to support HBCUs. According to a statement released by the university, the new program is “intended to inspire successful athletes, entertainers and other influential partners to re-commit, embrace and support historically Black colleges and universities.”
This program will be called “Lift Ev’ry Voice.” This refers to the song “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is commonly referred to as the “Black National Anthem.”James Weldon Johnson wrote the song originally as a poem and had his brother John Rosamond Johnson set it to music. He was a composer and music professor at what was then Florida Baptist Academy. That educational institution is now known as Florida Memorial University.
Thomas played two years of college basketball for Indiana University before entering the NBA draft. He played for 13 years for the Detroit Pistons. Thomas completed his degree from Indiana University during the Pistons’ offseasons and later earned his master’s degree in education from the University of California Berkeley.
Spelman College, an all girls HBCU, announced this week a new scholarship program for students of the school who advocate for LGBTQ issues. The Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program “will call attention to the importance of making visible the courageous and significant work of LGBTQ scholar activists within and beyond the academy, especially at HBCUs,” Spelman professor and alumna Beverly Guy-Sheftall said.
Guy-Sheftall is also the founder of the Spelman Women’s Research and Resource Center. The scholarship is named after Dr. Lee Watkins, who is Sheftall’s cousin and a founding member of the Women’s Research and Resource Center’s National Advisory Board. Guy-Sheftall pledged $100,000 in May and launched the scholars program and lecture series to explore contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality.
According to The Root, two Spelman sophomores who self-identify as LGBTQ advocates will be awarded renewable $25,000 scholarships this fall. “As an institution that upholds a supportive student experience, this gift will present new opportunities for critical conversation on race and sexuality with distinguished scholars and thought leaders, and provide a platform to recognize campus LGBTQ advocates and their scholarly achievements,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said after the scholarship program was announced.
Just ask 72-year-old Darlene Mullins, who recently graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee. The grandmother of four walked at the school’s commencement Saturday.
Darlene left school nearly 55 years ago in the name of love. She was a track star at the historically black college and met her husband-to-be, John Mullins, in 1962, she told USA Today. “I thought he was the finest thing walking on the campus,” Darlene told the HBCU’s campus magazine in 2014. The duo knew they would marry each other the moment they met and began dating shortly after. But Darlene’s track coach noticed that she was spending most of her time with her boyfriend. Her coach gave Darlene, who was training to go to the 1964 Olympics, an ultimatum: the track team or John. Darlene chose John.
She finished her freshman year with 25 credits and married John in 1963. Her husband graduated in 1964 and began working. Darlene took care of the household and was a stay-at-home mother to their son and daughter. The family lived in six states over the years, due to John’s successful career in business. Darlene told the campus outlet that she eventually began a career in retail and cosmetology as their children grew older.
Though she remained busy, she always longed to finish school. That feeling intensified when the couple would visit the HBCU for homecomings and other celebrations.“Something kept nagging at me,” she said. “I always told my children to make sure they finish what they started and I kind of felt it was time to live up to my own advice.”
Seniors at an almost-exclusively Black high school in Memphis, Tennessee, earned more than $80 million in university scholarship offers.
ABC News reported Friday (April 21) that more than 40 Whitehaven High School students contributed to this number with at least $1 million in offers each. A call to determine the total number of students who earned scholarships was not immediately returned. Per the Tennessee Department of Education’s website, Whitehaven’s student body is more than 99 percent Black.
One student, 18-year-old Zariah Nolan, earned nearly $9.6 million in scholarships, including 17 full-ride packages. Nolan told ABC News that she applied to nearly 100 colleges across the country using application packages like the Common Black College Application, which allows prospective students to submit to 51 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with one set of materials.
She will attend one of those HBCUs, Dillard University in New Orleans, this fall. “My principal always told us you never know where life can take you so apply anywhere just to see,” Nolan said. Her principal, Vincent J. Hunter, added that the 1,765 student-strong high school stands out thanks to its all-alumni staff. “It’s important for us to be our brother’s keeper and we work hard to make sure our kids are prepared for life after graduation,” says Hunter, who also attended Whitehaven.
South Carolina State University, the historically Black educational institution in Orangeburg, South Carolina, has announced a new effort to get students who had begun studies at the university but had not completed their degree for some reason to come back and complete what they had started.
The Bulldog Academic Resumption Covenant (BARC) Program enables students to complete their degree program through study with the University of Phoenix. Some 2,500 students in 20 degree programs who dropped out between 2010 and 2015 have been invited to join the BARC program.
These students will receive a 50 percent reduction in tuition costs and take online courses through the University of Phoenix that have been approved by the South Carolina State University faculty. These credits can then be used to satisfy degree requirements at South Carolina State. No more than 24 percent of all credits toward the South Carolina State University degree can be taken through the University of Phoenix.
James E. Clark, president of South Carolina State University, said that “the bottom line is we miss our students, and we want them to return home.”
Leonard Riggio, the founder and chairman of Barnes & Noble and his wife, Louise, are donating $1 million to Spelman College. The donation was made to establish the Riggio Scholars Program and to support Spelman’s arts and innovation center.
Half of the donation will go towards underwriting six Spelman students who have gone above and beyond to demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and who engage in community service.
The other half will help design and build an arts and innovation center. This center will house both the school’s arts programs as well as fund their Innovation Lab.
“From the moment I was surrounded by its warm embrace, I was head over heels in love with Spelman College, and especially with the beautiful people who study and teach there,” Leonard Riggio stated.
A 57-year-old grandmother of 12 who admitted that college “was a rough four years” graduated from Norfolk State University, a historically black college or university, alongside hundreds of students this past Saturday.
Darlene Pitts is a hardworking woman in pursuit of higher education living in Norfolk, Virginia. During her time at college, she was working two jobs. But she had to “Quit her job at a Kroger grocery store and focused on her schoolwork and her job as a special education teaching assistant at a local high school,” after she discovered that she was placed on academic probation.
Pitts told The Virginia-Pilot that “I came to work in tears because I got a letter saying I was on academic probation.” “Some of the classes, they were really rough,” Pitts added. “I was ready to throw in the towel. I just wanted to call it quits, but I just hung in there.”
Pitts will graduate from NSU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and hopes to become a full-time special education teacher as well as probably continue her career as a student.
Tuscaloosa, AL – Stillman College has been designated an Alabama historic district. On June 23, 2016, The Alabama Historical Commission listed Stillman College to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage as “Stillman College Campus Historic District, Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County”.
The Alabama Register is a prestigious listing of historic, architectural, and archaeological landmarks. Stillman College was favorably reviewed and selected by the Alabama Historical Commission for inclusion as an Alabama landmark worthy of both recognition and preservation. Dr. Peter Millet, President of Stillman College, states, “I am exceedingly pleased that Stillman College has been designated as an Alabama historic district. This identification will be featured prominently as we continue to tell the story of Stillman College. With 140 years of service and scholarship behind it, we eagerly look forward to the next 140 years of this storied and historic institution”.
Founded in 1876, Stillman College is a liberal arts institution with a covenantal relationship with the Presbyterian Church, USA. Stillman is committed to fostering academic excellence and to providing high quality educational opportunities for all students. With emphasis on three Centers of Excellence: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), Education, and Religion; Stillman has a proud and evolving tradition of preparing students for leadership and service in society.
Morgan State University was named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation on Tuesday, a designation given to only one other historically black college in the country.
The designation will mean Morgan and the National Trust will partner to develop a road map for preserving the university’s historic buildings, which mostly are a mix of Collegiate Revival and Brutalist architectural styles.
That road map will later be used as a template for preserving historic buildings on historically black college campuses across the country, said Dale Green, a professor of architecture and historic preservation at Morgan who is working with the National Trust.