Atlanta’s Spelman College has received a $17 million donation to fund an endowment for international programs.

The anonymous gift will establish the Gordon-Zeto Endowed Fund for International Initiatives, named after Nora Gordon, the first Spelman alumna to teach in the Congo, and Flora Zeto, the first Congolese student to graduate from Spelman.

The fund will be used in various ways to help internationalize the college’s classroom environment and extracurricular offerings.  A scholarship supported by the fund will bring students from Africa to study at Spelman, a historically black women’s college.

Spelman’s leaders see the fund as a means to fulfill their mission of graduating students who are literate in the workings of a world growing more and more integrated by the ease of travel and developments in technology.

“In the context of an increasingly global economy and a world made smaller by technology, it is more important than ever that students, faculty and staff are prepared for active engagement with the international community,” Spelman President Beverly Daniel Tatum said in a press release.

The endowment will also fund the Gordon-Zeto Dean for International Inititiatives, who will be the senior overseer of Spelman’s international programs. 

The Nora Gordon Scholars Program will support study abroad programs for Pell grant eligible students, giving first priority to those interested in studying in Africa.

A travel fund will also support short-term study trips by students and faculty.

The new endowment will not neglect existing global programs.  It will provide travel funds for Spelman’s Model United Nations team, support a faculty position in a first-year “African Diaspora” seminar course and help fund international recruiting efforts.

The number of Spelman students going abroad has doubled since 2002, while growth in the school’s foreign student population has remained flat. 

Ms. Tatum said the diversity provided by African students will augment the educational experience the college provides.

“The addition of students from Africa will serve to further educate and prepare the Spelman community for global engagement,” she said.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...