On July 15, 2012, I marked the end of my first decade at Spelman College, amazed at how quickly 10 years can go by.  When I think about my experience, the first word that comes to mind is gratitude – gratitude for the opportunity to serve, and gratitude for all that we have been able to accomplish together.   I emphasize “together” because what has been accomplished over the last 10 years has indeed been a collective effort.  Truly it is our collective effort that keeps our momentum growing.  And indeed, we have a lot of momentum.

Consider these facts:  In 2002 ,we gave $4.7 million in scholarships. Though still not enough to meet the need, this year we will give more than $14 million.   Since 2002, we’ve been able to renovate Sisters Chapel, Packard Hall, Rockefeller Hall, Bessie Strong, McAlpin, and Laura Spelman.   In 2004,we were able to purchase land and expand the campus, and in 2006, began construction on the Suites, which opened in 2008 as our first residence hall to achieve the national sustainability standard LEED Silver certification. The opening of the Suites increased the percentage of students who could live on campus from 50 percent to almost 70 percent restoring the residential character of the College.

In 2002, there were a lot of great things happening, but we weren’t sharing the news as widely as we could.  Today, you can read about Spelman weekly through the Spelman Connection, monthly through Inside Spelman, and twice a year in the Spelman Messenger.   In 2002, we had 70 million media impressions; now we literally have billions.  Our visibility as a leading institution in higher education has grown exponentially.

Our curriculum has been enhanced with new majors like International Relations and Environmental Science, and we now have a Social Justice Fellows Program, grooming the next generation of non-profit leaders.  In 2004, we launched the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (known as LEADS), along with an annual Women of Color Conference that coincides with Reunion weekend.  Under our current strategic plan, our study abroad participation has more than doubled since 2002.  In 2012, more than 200 students traveled internationally.  In 2002,we did not have funding for a sabbatical program in place, and without sabbaticals, it is difficult to recruit, retain, or keep the faculty fresh. Today there is a sabbatical program for junior faculty as well as a fully funded sabbatical program for our senior faculty.

These and other improvements have translated into more than 6,000 applications every year, and a consistent ranking not just as the top HBCU but among the top 100 of all liberal arts colleges in the U.S. by US News and World Report.  Our progress has been made possible by increased resources.  One source is the growth of our endowment.  In 2002,it was valued at $200 million.  Today, it is valued at over $310 million, providing millions more in earnings each year to support our programs.  But most importantly, alumnae support of Spelman College has grown.  In 2002, our alumnae participation rate was about 15 percent and the annual giving was about $700,000.  Today our alumnae participation rate has more than doubled to a high of 41percent in 2011, and annual giving has tripled, now more than $2.1 million each year.   And we are more than $130 million toward our 2014 campaign goal of $150 million!

Spelman is and always has been a jewel, but thanks to the hard work of many and the increased support of our alumnae and friends, Spelman is sparkling brighter and brighter every day.  But, as President Obama recently said, the best is yet to come!  Thank you so much for your support! Beverly Daniel Tatum is president of Spelman College.