Spelman College, the liberal arts educational institution for women in Atlanta, announced that it will name the new 84,000-square-foot Center for Innovation & the Arts in honor of Mary Schmidt Campbell, the tenth president of the college, who is stepping down from her post.
The Center for Innovation & the Arts will be a home to Spelman’s thriving arts programs in dance, documentary filmmaking, photography, theater and performance, music, the Atlanta University Center Art History and Curatorial Studies Collective, and provide expanded space for the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. The first new academic facility at Spelman in nearly 25 years, the center will also be the first building located outside of the Spelman gates and will serve as what the college is calling its “front porch.”
“The rapid convergence of art, technology, and entrepreneurship, with the liberal arts and sciences are beginning to yield new solutions to old challenges,” said Dr. Campbell. “This new facility will be a dynamic state-of-the-art learning environment that encourages disciplinary mastery in the arts and helps spur investments and foster growth in the local economy. The space will also open up opportunities for the community to experience arts and innovation on our campus.”
Dr. Campbell became president of Spelman College on August 1, 2015. She is dean emerita of the Tisch School of the Arts and University Professor of art and public policy at New York University. Early in her career she was the director of the Studio Museum in Harlem and was cultural affairs commissioner for the City of New York. She joined the faculty at New York University in 1991 and served as dean for two decades.
Dr. Campbell is co-author of Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America (Harry N. Abrams, 1994) and Memory and Metaphor: The Art of Romare Bearden, 1940-1987 (Oxford University Press, 1991). She received the 2018 Hooks National Book Award from the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis for her book An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden (Oxford University Press, 2018).
Professor Campbell is a graduate of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where she majored in English literature. She holds a master’s degree in art history and a Ph.D. in humanities from Syracuse University.