Spelman College announced Monday it has received one of its largest gifts in decades — $5 million — that will be used for scholarships and to help financially struggling students remain in the Atlanta institution.
The college’s president, Mary Schmidt Campbell, said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the contribution from Boston-based investor and hedge fund manager Seth Klarman and his wife Beth is a major boost to Spelman, the all-female, historically black college near downtown Atlanta. About 70 percent of its 2,100 students receive federal loans, according to U.S. Department of Education data.
Campbell talked about “heartbreaking” situations in which some students leave Spelman for financial reasons.
“This gives us the opportunity to acknowledge those students who have done everything right (academically) but don’t have the financial means,” she said.
The Klarmans, who donated to Spelman before, visited the campus about a year ago, sitting in on some classes and meeting faculty, Campbell said. Campbell said she was particularly grateful for the gift because it resulted from the couple seeing Spelman in person.
Campbell said she also hopes the gift will “open the doors” for similar financial gifts to other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“It leaves me optimistic,” Campbell said.
Bill and Camille Cosby’s $20 million donation to Spelman in the late 1980s is still believed to be the largest philanthropic contribution to a HBCU.
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