William Johnston and his wife, Spelman College Board of Trustee Ronda Stryker. She and her husband have donated $30 million to Atlanta college, the largest donation by living donors. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

AJC EXCLUSIVE: Spelman College receives largest gift, $30 million, from living donors

Spelman College has received its largest single gift from living donors - $30 million - which will be used for its new Center for Innovation & the Arts, officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday.

The donation was made by Spelman trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband, William Johnston. Stryker is the director of the Stryker Corp., a Fortune 500 medical technologies firm based in Kalamazoo, Mich. She joined the board in 1997. Johnston is chairman of Greenleaf Trust, an investment banking firm.

William Johnston and his wife, Spelman College Board of Trustee Ronda Stryker. She and her husband have donated $30 million to Atlanta college, the largest donation by living donors. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

The contribution is one of the largest donations ever to a historically black college & university (HBCU). Spelman received its largest bequest in 1992, a $37 million gift from the estate of Readers Digest founder DeWitt Wallace. Many HBCU supporters have noted with dismay that the schools do not receive large philanthropic gifts that typically go to Ivy League colleges or other large colleges and universities.

“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.” 

The center will house all of Spelman’s arts programs – art, art history, curatorial studies, dance, digital media, documentary filmmaking, photography, music and theater. The college also hopes to use the center to build bridges to the Westside Atlanta community. It will include Spelman’s expanded Museum of Fine Art, a digital theater housing publicly accessible performances, technology events, film screenings and a cafe. It’s projected cost is $86 million. 

"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.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Atlanta’s Spelman College

 

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