Skip to content

Spelman College receives historic financial donation


$100 million goes to famed HBCU

By Kristina Dixon | Across Black America

Spelman College in Atlanta will receive the largest single financial donation ever made to a historically Black college or university, the school announced on Thursday. 

Billionaires Ronda Stryker and William Johnston will donate $100 million to the women’s college. Stryker is a member of Harvard Medical School’s board of fellows and a member of the college’s board of trustees. She is also the granddaughter of the founder of Stryker Corp., a medical device company. Her husband, Johnston, is the founder and board chairman of Greenleaf Trust, a wealth management firm in Michigan. 

The college is both “invigorated and inspired” by the generous donation, Spelman College’s President Dr. Helene Gayle said in a statement.

“This gift is a critical step in our school’s mission to eliminate financial barriers to starting and finishing a Spelman education,” Gayle added. “We can’t thank Ronda Stryker enough for her selflessness and support as both a trustee and friend. There’s no doubt that Spelman College is better because of her.”

Spelman is a private liberal arts college. The college has received other significantly large donations in the past, including a $10 million donation last February from Rosemary K. and John W. Brown to support the construction of its Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., Center for Innovation & the Arts, which is scheduled to open this fall.

Most of Stryker and Johnston’s donation, $75 million, will fund endowed scholarships for future students, while the remaining $25 will be used to “develop an academic focus on public policy and democracy, improve student housing and provide flexible funding to meet critical strategic needs,” according to a statement. 

Stryker said she cares deeply for the sisterhood the college has created and that education is powerful and transformational for women.

“I have seen first-hand the enormous impact financial investment has generated for Spelman’s highly talented students,” Stryker said in a statement shared with NBC News. “It’s important to me that all women be provided an opportunity to explore their talents, challenge their self-doubts and realize the power of achieving individual success.”

HBCUs have small endowments compared with other colleges, but have seen an increase in donations since the racial justice protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. Spelman, which has about 2,400 students, has been relatively well-funded though, reporting an endowment of $571 million in 2021.

The Spelman donation comes a week after the United Negro College Fund announced a donation of $100 million from the Lilly Endowment Inc. That gift will reportedly go toward a pooled endowment for the 37 historically Black colleges and universities that form UNCF’s membership, including Spelman, with the goal of boosting the schools’ long-term financial stability.