Earlier today (Jan. 18), representatives at Spelman College announced what is now the biggest financial donation to a historically Black college or university (HBCU). Coinciding with a CBS News segment, Board Chair Lovette Russell took to the stage during an on-campus ceremony to share the news.
“As a student, I experienced the power of this historic institution and how it transforms the futures of talented young women,” she said. “And today, as board chair, I know that some of the brightest young women who dream about coming to Spelman are facing financial hardships and barriers to a higher education. What I am sharing with you today is a major step to ensure more young women can achieve their dreams at Spelman College.”
Russell continued, “Today, we are making history. Our long-serving board trustee, Ronda Stryker, and her husband, William Johnston, have decided to donate to Spelman College $100 million!” The auditorium immediately rejoiced after hearing the donation amount, of which $75 million will fund endowed scholarships for future students. The rest will go to an academic focus on democracy and public policy, dormitory renovations, and flexible funding to support other needs.
Spelman President Dr. Helene Gayle appeared on CBS News to further discuss the historic moment. “The message than it sends [to students] is, ‘They are worth it,’ and I think that that’s huge,” she told CBS News correspondent Gayle King. “I think it also says that it’s worth investing in HBCUs more broadly. Schools that have been far too underinvested in. I think this is exciting for so many reasons. For those girls who were in that room and expressed their joy and delight, who are going to create great futures. For them, for the girls who follow [and] for the future of HBCUs in general.”