Spelman College President Talks Wellness Revolution

Paul Steinbach Headshot

Soon after becoming president of Spelman College in 2002, Beverly Tatum championed the school’s move to NCAA Division III athletics. But realizing years later that Spelman was spending $1 million annually on only 80 of 2,100 students at the historically black women’s college, she decided to discontinue intercollegiate athletics altogether in favor of what she calls a campuswide “wellness revolution.” Last spring, even before the Jaguars competed in their final intercollegiate sporting event (a tennis match), the Atlanta school’s first-ever Founder’s Day 5K run was front-page news in the Sunday New York Times. This summer, Spelman will break ground on an $18 million multipurpose fitness facility replacing the antiquated Read Hall and featuring expanded group exercise, weight training and aquatic spaces, as well as a demonstration kitchen. Senior editor Paul Steinbach asked Tatum to reflect on her dramatic change of mind.

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