Spelman College receives $2 million donation for queer studies

Spelman College announced Tuesday it has received a gift of up to $2 million that will be used to create what it says is the first queer studies chair for any historically black college or university.

The gift, from Jon Stryker, will allow students at the Atlanta liberal arts college for women “to deepen their understanding around the study of sexuality and gender,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said in a statement.

» Spelman Delta Sigma Theta sorority donates $160,000 during homecoming

Spelman will begin a $2 million fundraising campaign to match Stryker’s donation.

Stryker is the founder and president of the Arcus Foundation, a private, global grant-making organization that supports the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer human rights and conservation of the world's great apes.

The chair will be named after poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde and attached to the Comparative Women’s Studies Program housed at Spelman’s Women’s Research and Resource Center, the college said.

Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” who named New York State’s Poet Laureate in 1991, spoke at Spelman several times. She donated her personal papers and other artifacts to the Spelman Archives, a part of the College’s Women’s Center. Lorde died in 1992.