Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, President, Spelman College

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Her Biography

Scholar, teacher, author, administrator and race relations expert, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is the ninth president of Spelman College. Prior to her appointment to the Spelman presidency in 2002, she spent 13 years at Mount Holyoke College, serving in various roles during her tenure there as professor of psychology, department chair, dean of the College and acting president.

Dr. Tatum is a clinical psychologist whose areas of research interest include black families in white communities, racial identity in teens, and the role of race in the classroom. For over 20 years, Dr. Tatum has taught a course on the psychology of racism. She has also toured extensively, leading workshops on racial identity development and its impact in the classroom.

In her critically acclaimed 1997 book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Conversations about Race, she applies her expertise on race to argue that straight talk about racial identity is essential to the nation. Going beyond the usual black-white paradigm, the book, which uses real life examples and the latest research, not only dispels race as taboo, but gives readers a new lens for understanding the emergence of racial identity as a developmental process experienced by everyone.

Dr. Tatum is also the author of Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community (1987). In addition, she has published numerous articles, including her classic 1992 Harvard Educational Review article, “Talking about Race, Learning about Racism: An Application of Racial Identity Development Theory in the Classroom.”

Dr. Tatum was raised in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. She earned a B.A. in psychology from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and a M.A. and PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. She also holds a M.A. degree in religious studies from Hartford Seminary.

Prior to joining the Mount Holyoke faculty in 1989, Dr. Tatum was an associate professor and assistant professor of psychology at Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts, and a lecturer in Black Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

She is married to Dr. Travis Tatum, a former professor of education at Westfield State College in Massachusetts, and the mother of two sons.

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