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Spelman College Nearing $250 Million Strategic Funding Goal

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The ambitious fundraising campaign entitled Spelman Ascends was launched four years ago.

What We Know:

  • Spelman President Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell announced they had reached 96% of their $250 million goal, scheduled to end in 2024. The program is aimed to provide resources that help increase financial aid, endow faculty professorships and fund a technology infrastructure transformation. The campaign also looks to install a new building on campus called the Center for Innovation & the Arts. According to Spelman in a press release, the new building will house programs in the arts, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

“We’re about $30 million short on our new building, but we will get there,” stated Dr. Campbell.

  • Hundreds of donators have contributed to the campaign, including Spelman alumni, who have made almost $17.5 million in commitments to cover scholarships that honor notable school graduates.
  • Spelman was founded in 1881 and, according to U.S News and World Report, has been the number one historically black college or university for the past 14 years. Additionally, Spelman is currently the leading producer of Black women who complete doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math.
  • Rosalind Brewer is an alumnus of Spelman and is currently the chair of Spelman College Board of Trustees. On March 15th, Brewer is slated to become the CEO of Walgreens and is the only black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Brewer is just one of many alumni who have contributed to the goal Spelman is pushing for. Brewer graduated from Spelman in 1984 and was the CEO and Group President of the Starbucks Corporation until the announcement of her new Walgreens position.
  • The main goal of Spelman Ascends is prioritizing innovative and pioneering academic programs. The initiative will support The Center for Black Entrepreneurship in a partnership with fellow HBCU Morehouse College and the Black Economic Alliance. Together, they are committed to building an Institute for the Study of Gender and Sexuality as well as The Atlanta University Center for Art History.

Contributions to Spelman Ascends continue to add up, providing a good public head start to the college’s ambitious goals.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Education

Howard University installs Chadwick Boseman’s name on College of Fine Arts building

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The “Black Panther” star is seen as an “icon in his own right who has left an immeasurable legacy for the next generation,” the university said.

What We Know:

“Yesterday, the letters were installed over the now official Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts,” the school said in a tweet Friday. “An icon in his own right who has left an immeasurable legacy for the next generation. Thank you Mr. Boseman.”

  • Howard University first announced in May that it would rename its performing and visual arts school after the ‘Black Panther’ star who also happens to be an alumnus of the school.
  • Boseman graduated from Howard in 2000 with a bachelor of arts degree in directing. During his time at the school, Boseman led a student protest against the absorption of the College of Fine Arts into the larger College of Arts & Sciences, according to the university.

In 2018, the year Boseman rocketed to international fame as King T’Challa in the Marvel cinematic universe, the university announced that its performing and visual arts school would return to its independent status.

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Education

Education Department Will Erase $5.8 Billion in Loans For Borrowers With Disabilities

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The Department of Education (DOE) announced it would eliminate the outstanding loans of over 32,000 borrowers with significant, permanent disabilities. It will also remove barriers that block future students from qualifying for this relief.

What We Know:

  • The DOE’s declaration erases approximately $5.8 million in debt. In addition, NPR writes that it symbolizes a “significant step” toward improving a “troubled debt relief program meant to help borrowers with disabilities.” U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona confirmed this statement when the Education Department revealed its decision, stating it would remove a major barrier for disabled students.

“Today’s action removes a major barrier that prevented far too many borrowers with disabilities from receiving the total and permanent disability discharges they are entitled to under the law,” Cardona said.

  • Despite the program’s intention to wipe student loans of those who cannot work due to disabilities, those who qualified for the program needed to apply for relief. Under the new plan, students will obtain automatic relief when identified through a data match with the Social Security Administration. The next match will take place in September.
  • In addition, the Department of Education said it would propose to eliminate the three-year income monitoring period. Officials will stop sending requests to borrowers for income information during the aforementioned years. Furthermore, the DOE will consider removing it entirely during the upcoming negotiated rule-making.
  • Disabled students and advocates believe this will bring change to the program. Persis Yu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said the vote is “long overdue.” However, Yu hopes the Education Department will review the eligibility criteria to determine when someone holds a disability discharge.

Yu added that Social Security’s match does not identify some qualified borrowers.

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