It took 116 years for it to happen, but Spelman College
alumnae finally got their wish: One of their own, graduate Dr. Audrey
Forbes Manley, has been named as the eighth president of the
all-women’s college in Atlanta.
The acting U.S. Surgeon General, who begins work on July 1, faced
steep competition alongside candidates Claudia Mitchell-Kernan, an
anthropologist and vice-chancellor at the University of California Los
Angeles, and Attorney Hazel O’Leary, former U.S. energy secretary.
O’Leary withdrew her name in mid-April, officials said, without
“I am deeply honored, delighted and feel extremely privileged to be
selected as the eighth president of Spelman,” Manley said in a written
statement. “In addition to looking forward to meeting the challenges
ahead with commitment and dedication, I feel confident that the college
will continue to move forward in all areas.”
While many alumnae said they were thrilled with the decision, Dr.
Manley’s appointment did not sit as well with some students, who walked
out of class on April 21, just two days after the announcement, to
protest Dr. Manley’s appointment.
Some said they are concerned that the 1955 graduate’s promise to
restore many of Spelman’s “traditions” will stunt the progress. Others
are angered about the seven-month search process which, according to
some students, lacked their involvement.
“It’s pretty clear that they can’t rescind the offer, but we want
her to come to the school hear what we have to see and address our
concerns,” said student government member Heather Thompson. “The bigger
issue is not about Dr. Manley so much as it is the way she was
Atlanta area graduates, meanwhile, are pledging their full support for Dr. Manley.
“As an alumna, she knows a lot about our tradition, and we know she
loves Spelman,” said retired educator and alumna Ernestine Mann.
Although some others are concerned that Manley, 62, the widow of
former Spelman President Albert Manley, may not have the academic edge
or charismatic savvy of the outgoing Johnnetta Cole, the rear admiral
has what it takes to run the school, alumnae said.
“They have very different personalities, but she brings some very
strong management skills to the table and those are very necessary,”
said Pearline Davis, vice president of the school’s national alumnae
association. “She’s a very solid leader … and she can do the job.”
Cole, who resigned last June, will begin a one-year sabbatical this
summer before taking a teaching post at Emory University in 1998.
In addition to naming Manley, the school also announced academician
June Gary Hopps of Boston College as the new chairman of the school’s
trustee board. Hopps, who also begins work July 1, replaces outgoing
chairman Robert Holland, CEO of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company.
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© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com