National Institute on Aging

In Memoriam: Donald Stewart, 1938-2019

Donald Stewart, the sixth president of historically Black Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, passed away on April 7, 2019. He was 80 years old.

Before coming to Spelman, Dr. Stewart held several positions at the University of Pennsylvania, including associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, director of the College of General Studies, and counselor to the provost. He also worked in the Overseas Development Division of the Ford Foundation.

Dr. Stewart assumed the presidency of Spelman College in 1977. One of his most innovative initiatives as president was the establishment of the Women’s Research and Resource Center, the first of its kind on a Black college campus. The center provided courses in women’s studies, conferences, symposia, the publication of the journal, SAGE, and management of the college’s archives. During his tenure, he also established chemistry and computer science departments, an honors program, and a comprehensive writing program. While he was president, Spelman greatly strengthened its financial position; the college’s endowment grew from $9 million to $41 million.

In 1986, Dr. Stewart left Spelman College to become president of The College Board where he would serve for more than 12 years. He spent a year at the Carnegie Corporation of New York where he served as senior program officer of the Education Division and special advisor to the president before taking the helm at the Chicago Community Trust as chief executive officer and president from 2000 to 2005. He returned to the classroom as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies from 2005 to 2011. In 2010, he was appointed to the Commission on Presidential Scholars by President Barack Obama

Dr. Stewart was a graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa where he majored in political science. He held a master’s degree in political science from Yale University, and a master’s degree and doctorate both in public administration from Harvard University.


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