09/19/14 5:56 AM

Office of the President

Biographical Sketch: Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.

When Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum became the ninth president of Spelman College in 2002, she set an expectation that the institution would be recognized as one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country – a place where young women of African descent could say, “This place was built for me and it is nothing less than the best!” With her creative energy focused on five strategic goals – Academic Excellence, Leadership Development, Improving our Environment, Visibility of our Achievements, and Exemplary Customer Service (collectively known as Spelman ALIVE), Spelman College has experienced great growth. 

Spelman is now widely recognized as one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the nation. Applications have increased more than 40% during her tenure, making it one of the most selective women’s colleges in the United States.

In 2004, the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (LEADS) was created and its annual Women of Color Leadership Conference established as a national professional development resource. The curriculum has expanded to include Chinese language instruction, and in 2008, the Gordon-Zeto Fund for International Initiatives was established with a gift of $17 million, increasing opportunities for faculty and student travel, and providing financial aid for international students. Overall, scholarship support for Spelman students has doubled since 2002, and opportunities for faculty research and development have expanded significantly.
Through the Every Woman, Every Year Initiative launched in 2006, alumnae support of the annual fund has grown to 41% and continues to rise.

Campus improvements include the award-winning renovation of three historic buildings and the 2008 completion of a new “green” residence hall, increasing on-campus housing capacity by more than 25% and establishing the campus commitment to environmental sustainability for the 21st century. The college is a participant in The American College & University President’s Climate Change Commitment, and has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the Green Key Award. 

These recognitions and improvements serve as the foundation for the next phase of development, Strengthening the Core: The Strategic Plan for 2015, which focuses on global engagement, expanded opportunities for undergraduate research and internships, alumnae-student connections, leadership development and service learning linked to an increasingly interdisciplinary curriculum.

In addition to being an accomplished administrator, Dr. Tatum is widely recognized as a scholar, teacher, race relations expert and leader in higher education. The recipient of numerous honorary degrees, in 2005 Dr. Tatum was awarded the prestigious Brock International Prize in Education for her innovative leadership in the field. Her best-selling titles include Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation (2007) and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race (1997). She is also the author of Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community (1987).

Actively involved in the Atlanta community, Dr. Tatum is a member of several boards including the Executive Committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Woodruff Arts Center, the Community Foundation of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education, where she serves as vice chair.  In addition, she co-chaired the Early Education Commission of the United Way.

Dr. Tatum is also a member of several national non-profit boards such as the Institute for International Education, Council of Independent Colleges, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Teach for America. Appointed by President Obama, she is a member of the Advisory Board for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She also serves on the Georgia Power corporate board of directors.

Dr. Tatum earned a B.A. degree in psychology from Wesleyan University, and M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from University of Michigan. She also holds a M.A. in Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary. She has served as a faculty member at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Westfield State College, and Mount Holyoke College, where she also served as dean and acting president.

President Tatum is married to Dr. Travis Tatum, a retired college professor; they are the parents of two adult sons.