Agnes Scott Custodian of 45 Years Receives Social Justice Award

Monday, January 24, 2011

Della Spurley was presented with the Karen Green Human Relations Award at Agnes Scott College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation Jan. 20.

Della SpurleySpurley, who recently retired after 45 years as a custodian at the college, was given the award to honor her many years of work with social justice initiatives at Agnes Scott aimed at improving the lives of students and workers.

“She was—for generations of students, staff and faculty—a wise and trusted mentor, colleague and adviser. She consistently raised her voice for social justice,” said Elizabeth Kiss, president of Agnes Scott. “Agnes Scott is a better place thanks to her hard work and wise spirit.”

Among her many contributions to the college, Spurley helped lead an on-campus effort that resulted in the creation of a Living Wage at Agnes Scott, an initiative designed to provide the college’s lowest-paid hourly and monthly staff with pay that can better support an individual and his/her family in the Atlanta area.

“She was generous in spirit and challenging. She was always challenging the college and policy respectfully. She was always saying, “What are you going to do to make a difference?”’ said Kijua Sanders-McMurtry, associate dean of students and special assistant to the president on diversity.

Spurley also served on the Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee and represented the staff as a platform participant at the inauguration of Elizabeth Kiss as Agnes Scott’s president.

“Della has always been a warm and genial presence at the college, with friends across the campus, in every college constituency. But she has also been a forceful leader, providing a strong voice not only for social justice in the abstract but for worker rights in particular,” said Gus Cochran, Adeline A. Loridans Professor of Political Science.

The Karen Green Human Relations Award is given annually by the President’s Committee on Community Diversity to an individual who has worked diligently to improve human relations among the diverse groups on our campus. Green graduated from Agnes Scott and became director of student activities and housing in 1986, became adviser for multicultural affairs in 1994 and was named assistant dean of students in 1997, the same year she earned her Masters of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory. She is now dean of students at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania.

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.