Spelman College receives biggest financial gift ever from living donors

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Spelman College has received its largest single donation ever from living donors – a $30 million gift from Spelman trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband, William Johnston, the AJC reports.

The generous gift will be used for a new Center for Innovation & the Arts, officials announced on Thursday. Stryker works as the director of the Stryker Corp., a Fortune 500 medical technologies firm based in Kalamazoo, Mich, according to reports. She assumed a role on the school’s board in 1997.

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Johnston is chairman of Greenleaf Trust, an investment banking firm.

The endowment is only second to the $37 million that was donated in 1992, through the estate of Readers Digest founder DeWitt Wallace.

The financial gift is significant given that donations to historically black colleges and universities pale in comparison to the millions given to predominately white, Ivy League schools.

“With this historic gift, yet again, Ronda’s support will be transformational,” said Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell.

“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.”

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“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 said.

According to Spelman’s website, the new center will be “a space for the convening of multiple disciplines, the new facility will bring together visual arts, art history, curatorial studies, photography, documentary filmmaking, dance, theater, music, an innovation lab and parts of the Museum. Along with the consolidation of arts disciplines on campus, there will also be student collaboration areas, living spaces for visiting artists-in-residence professionals and a cyber café.”

The project is estimated to cost $86 million.