Spelman College has received a $1 million gift from Leonard and Louise Riggio to establish the Riggio Scholars Program in addition to supporting their planned arts and innovation center. Half of the gift will be designated for the design and construction of an arts and innovation center. The new state-of-the-art center will house the College’s arts programs and Innovation Lab, which encourage creative collaborations at the intersection of the arts, technology, science and other liberal arts disciplines. Program planning for the facility is currently underway.
“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, the founder and chairman of Barnes and Noble, Inc., the nation’s largest retail bookseller, 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.”
“Leonard and Louise Riggio have been longstanding supporters of education and the arts,” said Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. “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 campus-wide collaborations and community engagement.”
This is not the Riggio’s first philanthropic gift to an academic institution. They helped fund such higher education programs as the New School’s Writing and Democracy program. They’ve also been involved in projects such as Dia:Beacon, Chinati, The Spiral Getty and Michael Heizer’s City Project.
The remaining $500,000 will be used to underwrite six Spelman students who have demonstrated stellar academic achievement and who are actively engaged in community service. The 2016 -2017 Riggio Scholars include Joy Milner, Chanara Andrews, Jordan Brown, Karchia Wallace-Warthon, Jenai Bostic and Miriam Metze.