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Spelman College receives $1 million gift from Barnes & Noble founder

The gift will support a scholars program and an innovation center

When your school rocks, and some important people take notice and decide to dish some dollars, you should be celebrating. Well, stand up, Spelman College.

As historically black colleges and universities continue to shine, Spelman recently caught the eyes of Leonard and Louise Riggio. The two recently donated $1 million to the Atlanta-based institution to establish the Riggio Scholars Program and support the college’s planned arts and innovation center. Leonard Riggio is the founder and chairman of Barnes & Noble Inc. — the nation’s largest retail bookseller.

“From the moment I was surrounded by its warm embrace, I was head over heels in love with Spelman College, and especially with the beautiful people who study and teach there,” said Leonard Riggio of his visit to the college. “The whole of the place seems to have been lifted from the depths of our spirits, to the full realization of our hopes and dreams for a better America. If Spelman is not the paradigm of a great college, I do not know what is. The gift to the scholarship program and to the arts and innovation center from Louise and me commemorates one of the best days I’ve ever had.”

According to the school, half of the Riggios’ gift will be used for six Spelman students who have demonstrated stellar academic achievement and who are actively engaged in community service. The remaining $500,000 will be designated for the design and construction of an arts and innovation center that will house the college’s arts programs and innovation lab.

“Leonard and Louise Riggio have been longstanding supporters of education and the arts,” said Spelman president Mary Schmidt Campbell. “We welcome them as new donors to Spelman and welcome, too, their enthusiasm and faith in the values and mission of the college. Their generous gift supports the academic success of a group of talented, socially engaged students and, at the same time, helps the college launch the planning of a new facility that will encourage campuswide collaborations and community engagement.”

The following students have been selected as 2016-2017 Riggio Scholars:

Joy Milner, a health science, dual-degree nursing major, volunteers at Morehouse School of Medicine’s microbiology, biochemistry and immunology research laboratory and as a peer tutor at Clayton State University.

Chanara Andrews, an English major, graduated in the top 5 percent of her high school class and volunteers as a Spanish/English tutor and peer counselor. She plans a career as a college professor.

Jordan Brown, a history major, has completed more than 300 service hours as a volunteer with several nonprofit organizations, including the Girl Scouts. She is interested in multiple careers, including being a museum archivist, documentary filmmaker and college professor.

Karchia Wallace-Warthon, a political science major, plans to attend law school and work in public service. She is a peer leadership assistant at Spelman.

Jenai Bostic, a biology major, plans to attend medical school with the goal of establishing a dental practice to provide children and their families with affordable services. She is a peer tutor, resident adviser and student ambassador at Spelman.

Miriam Metze, an English major, has interned with the United Negro College Fund and aims to pursue a career as an attorney in the area of social justice.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.