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Tatum, Beverly Daniel 1954–

Beverly Daniel Tatum 1954

Educational administrator

Raised in Education Driven Family

Named President of Spelman College

Authored Numerous Articles

Conducted Research in Race and Education

Selected writings


Beverly Daniel Tatum has had a distinguished career as a psychologist, educator, scholar, and college administrator. She has written two books and numerous articles on the subject of racial identity and other topics. In 2002 she was named president of Spelman College.

Raised in Education Driven Family

Tatum was born on September 27, 1954, in Tallahassee, Florida, and was raised in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Her great grandfather, William Hazel, was an artist and an architect who became the first dean of the school of architecture at Howard University. Her grandparents, Victor Hugo Daniel and Constance Eleanor Hazel Daniel, were heads of the Cardinal Gibbons Institute in Maryland for several years in the 1930s. Her father, Robert A. Daniel, has taught art at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Southern University in Baton Rouge, and at Bridgewater State College.

Tatum also pursued a profession in higher education. She earned her B.A. in psychology, graduating magna cum laude from Wesleyan University in 1975. The next year she earned her M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. From 1980 to 1981 she was a Dissertation Fellow at the Center for Black Studies in the University of California Santa Barbara, where, from 1982 to 1983 she also worked as a lecturer in Black Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Michigan in 1984.

Tatum returned to New England in 1983 as an assistant professor of psychology at Westfield State College, in Westfield, Massachusetts. Tatum was promoted to associate professor in 1986, and remained at Westfield until 1989. She then came to Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, Massachusetts, a highly selective, non-denominational, liberal arts college enrolling approximately 2,000 women from across the United States and more than 70 other countries. Tatum was hired as associate professor of psychology and education in 1989. In 1996 she became a full professor, and in 1997 she served as department chair. In 1998 she became dean of the college and vice president for student affairs. When college president Joanne V. Creighton took a six-month sabbatical, Tatum became acting president for the spring of 2002 semester. In the

At a Glance

Born on September 27, 1954, in Tallahassee, FL; daughter of Robert Alphonse and Catherine Faith (Maxwell) Daniel; married Travis James Tatum, July 28, 1979; children: Travis Jonathan Daniel, David Alexander Daniel. Education: Wesleyan University, BA, 1975; Univ of Michigan, MA, 1976, PhD, 1984; Hartford Seminary, MA, 2000.

Career: Counseling psychologist, 1979-83; Univ California Santa Barbara, dissertation fellow, 1980-81, lecturer, department of black studies, 1982-83; Westfield State College, assistant professor of psychology, 1983-86, associate professor, 1986-89; psychologist, private practice, Northampton, MA, 1989; Mt. Holyoke College, associate professor, department of psychology and education, 1989-96, professor, 1996-02; department chair, 1997-98, dean and vp for student affairs, 1998-02; acting president, 2002; Stone Center, Wellesley College, visiting scholar, 1991-92; Spelman College, president, 2002-.

Memberships; American Psychological Association; American Educational Research Assn; American College Personnel Assn; American Assn of University Women; National Assn of Multicultural Education; Equity Institute, board of directors, 1985-90, chair, 1988-90; Williston Northhampton School, board of trustees, 1999- Hartford Seminary, board of incorporators, 2000-.

Selected awards: Rackham Opportunity Fellowship, Univ of MI, 1975-78; Distinguished Service Award, Westfield State College, 1986, 1987; Mt. Holyoke African-American Studies Research Grant, 1991; Publication Award, Assn of Women in Psychology, 1994; Carnegie Corporation Grant, 1996; Book of the Year, National Assn of Multicultural Education, 1998; Brait-mayer Foundation Grant, 2000; Mellon Foundation Planning Grant, 2000; five honorary degrees; Public Sector Woman of the Year Award, Financial Womens Association (FWA).

Addresses: Office Office of the President, Spelman College 350 Spelman Lane SW, Atlanta, GA 30314-4399. Phone: (404) 223-1400.

College Street Journal Tatum called this semester her presidential internship.

Named President of Spelman College

After 13 years at Mount Holyoke, she was presented with a remarkable opportunity: she had been nominated for the presidency of Spelman College. Happy with her position at Mount Holyoke and a long-time resident of Massachusetts, Tatum told Black Issues in Higher Education that she, nonetheless, knew that, given the uniqueness of Spelman, that it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So, after some consideration, Tatum decided that a move to Atlanta was the right choice for her. It just felt like this was what I was supposed to do, she told Black Issues in Higher Education. On April 19, 2002, the Spelman College Board of Trustees appointed Tatum as the institutions ninth president, to begin her duties as the third African-American female to head the college in August of 2002.

One of the things that drew Tatum to Spelman was the fact that as a womens college, like a historically black institution, rather than being on the margin you are at the center, she told Black Issues in Higher Education. She continued, Spelman is one of the few places where as a Black woman you can come and look around and say, This institution was built for me, with me expressly in mind. Also, her own grandmother had attended Spelman, and, Tatum stated in the College Street Journal, As the granddaughter of a Spelman woman, I have been the beneficiary of its wonderful legacy of preparing black women for leadership, and I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, students, and alumnae to build on its long tradition of academic excellence and mission of empowerment and service.

A top priority for Tatum in her new position was improving technology at Spelman. Universal internet access was planned for the residence halls on campus, and Tatum wanted to ensure that all students, including those who live off campus, would have easy access to E-mail. Tatum also wanted to improve communication with students. She told Black Issues in Higher Education, My experience is that students really want to have a sense of involvement. They want to feel connected to the college administration. They want to have a voice in the decisions that are being made.

Authored Numerous Articles

A productive scholar, Tatum has written numerous articles and book chapters. Though she has written on gender and academic achievement, the primary emphasis for her research has been racial identity and development. Mount Holyoke President Joanne V. Creighton praised Tatum in the College Street Journal, saying, As a scholar and writer, she has helped shape the national discussion on issues of race. Tatums best known article is Talking about Race, Learning about Racism: An Application of Racial Identity Development Theory in the Classroom, published in the Harvard Educational Review in 1992. It has been reprinted in many anthologies. Her 2000 article in Liberal Education highlights one of her most recent strategies, The ABC Approach to Creating Climates of Engagement on Diverse Campuses. Her ABCs are: affirming identity, building community, and cultivating leadership. She tested her concept when she began her service as dean of the college at Mount Holyoke, and on October 30, 1999, she presented a paper on it at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education.

Tatum has also written two books. In 1987 Tatum published Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community. Tatum further examines race relations in Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race (1997). The book was named the 1998 Multicultural Book of the Year by the National Association of Multicultural Education and was also listed on the Independent Bookstore Bestseller list. Tatum noted in Techniques, I think its important for teachers to understand that race impacts everyone. everybodys life is affected by the fact that we live in a society built on systems of privilege and disadvantage. That influences how we view the world, who we come into contact with, how we think about ourselves and other people. Booklist noted that the book is particularly useful in tracing different developmental tasks African Americans take on in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

On December 3, 1997, following the publication of her second book, Tatum was one of three authors and one of 67 people invited to participate in the Summit on Race Relations and Americas Public Education System, the first program in President Bill Clintons initiative to improve race relations in the United States. The conversation took place on a stage in a University of Akron auditorium. In an effort to spark a national conversation about race, Clinton challenged participants to speak about subjects ranging from affirmative action to the role race plays in their daily lives. C-Span broadcast the meeting live.

She has also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.s birthday the show examined racism in schools. Teens candidly discussed their biases, stereotypes, and perceptions about racism as America is becoming more and more diverse. In this episode titled, Race at School, Tatum suggested providing children with books, movies and other media that will reflect diverse populations. She offered several suggestions, which remained available on Oprah Winfreys website.

Conducted Research in Race and Education

Tatum has received several research grants and fellowships. In 1991 she earned a postdoctoral fellowship from the Ford Foundation, and in 2000 she won the Braitmayer Foundation Grant, a Mellon Foundation Implementation Grant, and a Mellon Foundation Planning Grant. In 1996 she created and directed a model two-year program, funded by the Carnegie Corporation, to teach interracial and intercultural awareness to students at JFK Middle School in Northampton, Massachusetts. The two-year program applied her theories about diversity to a real situation and it amplified her previous success of working with educators and students in racially mixed schools. The project included three major components: professional development for the educators, an after-school cultural identity program for the students, and a series of unlearning racism workshops for the parents.

Tatums awards include a 1971 National Achievement Award, the Commonwealth Citation for Meritorious Service from Westfield State College (1988), and the Association of Women in Psychology Publication Award in 1994, among others. In 2003 she received the Public Sector Woman of the Year Award from the Financial Womens Association (FWA). She has also received honorary degrees from Salem State College (1999), Bates College (2000), Wheelock College (2001), and Westfield State College (2002).

Also a licensed clinical psychologist, Tatum has offered individual and group counseling. Her counseling has centered on consultation and training on issues of diversity and multicultural organization and development. In 1979 she married Travis Tatum, a professor of education, and the couple have two sons.

Selected writings


Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community, 1987.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race, 1997.


Talking about Race, Learning about Racism: An Application of Racial Identity Development Theory in the Classroom, Harvard Educational Review, 1992.

(Co-author) Feminist Strategies for Teaching about Oppression: The Importance of Process, Womens Studies Quarterly, 1992.

Racial Identity and Relational Theory: The Case of Black Women in White Communities, Work in Progess, 1993.

What Do You Do When They Call You a Racist? National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, 1998.

(Co-author) Implementation Strategies for Creating an Environment of Achievement, Liberal Education, 2000.

Examining Racial and Cultural Thinking, Educational Leadership, 2000.

The ABC Approach to Creating Climates of Engagement on Diverse Campuses, Liberal Education, 2000.



Notable Black American Women, Book III, Gale, 2002.

The Complete Marquis Whos Who, Marquis Whos Who, 2003.


Ascribe Higher Education, February 12, 2003; March 10, 2003.

Black Issues in Higher Education, October 10, 2002.

Booklist, September 1, 1997.

Jet, April 14, 2003; June 23, 2003.

Techniques, February 1999.


A Glimpse of the Kingdom, Fellowship, (July 19, 2002).

Beverly Tatum Outlines Priorities as Dean of the College, College Street Journal, (July 19, 2002).

Beverly Tatums Vitae, Spelman College, (October 20, 2003).

Biography of Beverly Tatum, Spelman College, (October 20, 2003).

Harvard Educational Review Classics Series, (July 19, 2002).

Race at School, Multicultural Books for Children and Adolescents. Recommendations by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., Oprah Online, (July 19, 2002).

Tatum likely choice to head Spelman, GazetteNET, (July 19, 2002).

Tatum Speaks of Developing Student Racial Identities, The Michigan Daily Online, October 16, 1996, (July 19, 2002).

Tatum Steps in as Acting President, College Street Journal, (July 19, 2002).

Tatum to Be Next Spelman President, College Street Journal, (July 19, 2002).

Tatum Top Candidate for Spelman College Presidency, College Street Journal, (July 19, 2002).


Additional information for this profile was obtained through a letter to Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, June 21, 2002.

Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper and Jennifer M. York

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