Spelman College announced Thursday that it has received a $100 million donation, an amount that officials say is the largest single gift ever given to a historically Black college or university.
The donation to the private Atlanta institution was made by longtime Spelman trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband, William Johnston. Stryker is on the board of directors of Stryker Corp., a medical technology company that her grandfather started, while Johnston is chairman of Greenleaf Trust, a wealth management firm.
“We are invigorated and inspired by this incredible act of generosity,” Spelman President 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.
Three-quarters of the donation will go toward endowed scholarships at Spelman, the college said. The funds will help the college take a step toward adopting need-blind admissions, meaning the institution wouldn’t consider applicants’ ability to pay for their education when making admissions decisions.
The remaining $25 million will go partly toward developing “an academic focus on public policy and democracy,” according to the announcement. It will also be used to improve student housing and give Spelman a flexible funding source.
The donation comes on the heels of another large gift to the HBCU sector.
Earlier this month, Lilly Endowment Inc. gave $100 million to UNCF, an organization that advocates for HBCUs and awards student scholarships. The gift marks the largest unrestricted private donation in UNCF’s history.
UNCF is using the donation to help build a pooled endowment fund for its 37 member colleges, which include Spelman.