One evening, writer Elizabeth Benedict finished an essay on her recently deceased mentor, Barnard professor Elizabeth Hardwick, and also hatched the idea for her new book. Within days, five prominent writers had already agreed to contribute essays, including best-selling author and Millicent C. McIntosh professor of English Mary Gordon ’71. Clearly, Benedict had struck a chord. Contributors jumped at the chance to recall the personalities who helped shape their careers. As Benedict writes in her introduction, each story “is a celebration of that potent elixir of influence and serendipity,” the moment when a magical relationship with profound implications happens. The resulting collection renders an animated portrait of how incredibly challenging it is to “become” a writer and, as a bonus for the rest of us, makes a wonderful reading list of well- and lesser-known literary talents— both mentors and mentored.
How do you define the difference between mentors and muses?
I think of a muse as a source of inspiration, and a mentor as somebody who really taught you. A mentor is a force who gives direction and guidance in how to pursue being a writer. I think the writers who felt that books were their mentors didn’t just feel that the books inspired them, but that they actually taught them how to be a writer.
Was “Monsters” always part of the title?
Yes, because I wanted the book to have room in it for people who might have darker stories to tell; the word added a complexity. Although there is only one full-blown “monster” essay in the book, there are essays about mentors whose reputations or personalities were such that you could say, “One person’s mentor is another person’s monster.” Also, relationships are not static, the better you get to know someone, the more complicated your relationship becomes.
Regarding writers studying their mentors, you wrote “obsession is an occupational necessity.” To make art you have to be obsessed. You can’t be an indifferent artist. Writers become obsessed with their own material, with books that have mattered to them, and with their mentors and muses. They feel these people have something they want, or these people have anointed them and said, “you have talent and you need to do something with it.” When you’re young and uncertain and someone in authority says that to you, it’s powerful.
Mentor-pupil pairing seems extremely personal. Elizabeth Hardwick was your mentor, and one of Mary Gordon’s. Sigrid Nunez ’72 wrote about Susan Sontag, her then boyfriend’s mother. That’s true, and what’s also interesting about the mentor relationship is that you often don’t know you have a mentor while it’s happening, it’s something you sometimes only realize later on when you understand the significance someone has had in your life. You may recognize that you have a teacher who is influencing you, but you don’t always actually give them that “mentor” label until sometime later when you have a broader perspective.
Was there one special gift all these mentors and muses gave these writers? I think they gave the writers the courage to pursue something where there’s no way to predict what will happen. You need a lot of courage to pursue an occupation where the rewards are so illusive, and mentors shower some gold dust on you.
-by Mary Witherell '83
Late last year, Barnard began a new initiative to make its Reunion Giving program more robust, with the full support of President Debora Spar, who said, “establishing a strong Reunion Giving program is vital to raising the kind of philanthropy the College needs and deserves, which is why I am so excited about this endeavor.”
“Barnard offers a world-class education and we want to complement that with a world-class reunion giving program,” explains Bobbi Mark, vice president of development and alumnae affairs. Kelli Payne, director of reunion giving, who joined the development staff last summer, adds, “Many alumnae see reunions as milestones and a time to elevate their support to the College. At Barnard, we want to make sure that reunions foster even more of a ‘come back and give back’ tradition.”
The Reunion Giving program’s main goals are to increase participation, broaden leadership giving, and significantly expand the number of volunteers involved with reunion giving. Those volunteers can in turn reach out to their classmates in a personal way to support their alma mater. Says Payne, “We are asking alumnae with a demonstrated commitment to the College to recruit others so that Barnard can boast a volunteer corps proportional to the number of alumnae who truly value what the College has given them. The new Reunion Giving program will accelerate Barnard’s ability to develop a significantly larger number of fund-raising volunteers, similar to what has been in place for decades at peer institutions.”
The cornerstones of the new program are the Reunion Gift committees. Each committee will consist of a reunion gift chair or co-chairs and a specially selected group of volunteers, who will ask members of their class to consider leadership gifts above and beyond their typical giving in honor of their quinquennial reunion. Mark defines a leadership gift as “a stretch commitment that ranks Barnard as a top philanthropic priority for the alumna, in accordance with her capacity to provide financial support.”
The importance of the Reunion Gift committees cannot be overstated. “They provide the backbone for all reunion giving efforts and, along with the network of Barnard Fund chairs and class agents, the foundation of alumnae giving in general,” states Spar, who personally assisted in recruiting some of this year’s Reunion Gift chairs.
Serving as Reunion Gift co-chair held great appeal for Marley Blue Lewis ’05. “I strongly believe in the school and understand how important it is to give back and support the institution,” she says. As a younger alumna, Lewis is also keenly aware of her role in “encouraging a tradition of giving to Barnard,” since it has been repeatedly demonstrated that successful reunion gift programs and peer-to-peer solicitations positively impact overall future giving.
“It’s a great concept,” says Camille Kiely Kelleher ’70, Reunion Gift chair for her class. “It’s still early, but the people I have called and asked to be on our committee are very happy to become involved.”
Along with this enhanced solicitation of gifts comes a new emphasis on the type of gift being requested. Instead of being encouraged to make a one-time gift during a reunion year, alumnae will be asked to maximize their commitment by considering gifts structured as five-year pledges. These multi-year pledges will be included in each class’s cumulative- giving reunion total, so that the donor and the class receive recognition for all restricted and unrestricted commitments— including critically important gifts to The Barnard Fund— made in the five years leading up to each class Reunion. “A five-year pledge is a great help to set the foundation for a lifetime of consistent giving,” says Payne.
“Any effort that can build up the amount of money donated to Barnard is great,” says Kelleher, who cites Barnard’s low endowment relative to other peer institutions and her own attendance on a scholarship as key reasons for her ongoing commitment to support the College. “I owe a lot to Barnard, so I’m happy to do what I can to give back.”
Because the program is new, and she is new to Barnard, Payne views this year as a “soft start.” She says, “We are still working on identifying committee members from each class; we want to create a vibrant reunion giving program that people look forward to being part of and supporting.”
-by Karen Schwartz '93, photographs courtesy of the subjects
If there is one thing that has defined this young century, it’s how “connected” the world has become. Barnard is no exception. “During the course of your life you are going to interact with people from China, Russia, and the Middle East, if not as friends, then certainly as colleagues and collaborators,” says Barnard President Debora Spar. “The earlier people can get that exposure, the better.”
To position Barnard as a leading institution of higher education with global stature and bring a bigger international presence to campus, the College has undertaken several initiatives. Among the newest is the International Advisory Committee (IAC) to be made up of alumnae and parents of students. Though still being formed (there are now 25 members and counting), the committee’s goal is to enhance Barnard’s reputation and academic credentials in all corners of the world. In addition, committee members will assist with local contacts in various regions to pave the way for partnerships with other colleges and universities and academic opportunities for faculty and students. “It’s important to penetrate the local community if you want to have a global presence,” says IAC member Tay Yun Cho ’75, who lives in Seoul, South Korea. “If you don’t know the local community, your efforts are going to be a little less effective.” Cho is active in the alumnae association in Seoul and visits local high schools to speak about Barnard.
Currently international students comprise 4 percent of the student population, below the 8 percent to 14 percent rate of similar institutions. One explanation: With smaller numbers of alumnae going back to their home countries, there are fewer people talking about Barnard to potential students. While Barnard would like to increase the number of international students, one of the obstacles to doing so is that there isn’t much financial aid to support overseas students. Some fund- raising efforts for this purpose are beginning, “but we are not going to create more money for international students at the expense of our American students,” affirms Spar.
In addition to the IAC, there are other international initiatives: The provost’s advisory committee on internationalization has been meeting for the past five years and engages in curricular, research, and faculty-oriented issues where internationalization is concerned. In July 2008, Hilary Link, assistant provost and dean for international programs, created a coordination group with those administrators who have connections to Barnard’s internationalization efforts. The newest effort is the Visiting International Student Program (VISP), to bring international students to Barnard from partner universities for the spring semester each year.
In March 2009, an annual symposium to take place at a different overseas location each year was inaugurated in Beijing. The event addressed “Women Changing China” and commemorated Kang Tongbi, the first Chinese woman to attend Barnard a century ago. It drew several hundred participants, including scholars and media. Spar traveled to several locations in Asia, including South Korea and Hong Kong. The result was encouraging: Barnard entered into partnerships with several universities, three in China and two in Korea.
This March, Barnard will again host a symposium, in Dubai, where scholars and activists will address the roles of women in the Arab world. The goal is to create partnerships with higher- education institutions and academics in the Middle East.
The IAC is brainstorming additional ideas to advance the College. In Moscow, Maria Baibakova ’07 wants to facilitate connections between Barnard and new, American-style higher- education institutions being founded in Russia. Baibakova, who runs the Baibakov Art Project in Moscow, would also like to help the College expand its offerings of contemporary art programs to students. Nina Fischman ’86, who lives in Long Island, N.Y., but travels frequently to Israel, wants to build off the 350-person strong Israeli alumnae network to create opportunities for Barnard faculty to do research in the Middle East. Fischman’s daughter is spending a gap-year in Israel before she enrolls at Barnard this fall. Last year, she participated in an event for other Barnard students spending their gap-year there. Students came together with alumnae who spoke about campus life. “They were able to see that after 20, 35, or 40 years someone still feels engaged enough with Barnard to talk to them,” says Fischman. “That’s powerful.”
-by Ilana Polyak, illustration by Katherine Streeter
Hello, Beautiful Barnard Alumnae,
I write this letter as the fall semester comes to a close, and what an exciting semester it has been for me. More than 100 alumnae volunteers represented their class or club at the Leadership Assembly in October. Feedback about the revised format has been positive. Armed with new information to support them in their leadership roles, and fueled by lively conversation and a look at the Barnard experience for today’s students, your representatives left campus prepared to answer questions about campus life and talk about ways you can stay connected to the College and each other. If you want more information, please contact your class officers and regional club leaders.
When I traverse the campus or attend an event, I am still amazed by the bright, articulate Barnard students that I encounter. The complex world of the twenty-first century needs the energy, enthusiasm, and thoughtful intelligence of these young women and others like them. We, as Barnard alumnae, can make a meaningful contribution to their development as mentors, advisors, and even employers. For example, during the spring semester, there will be several receptions for seniors with alumnae organized around specific career fields; contact Alumnae Affairs if you would like to participate. An affinity group for student-alumnae psychology majors began in the fall, and I am sure many other such groups will form in the coming months. The Career Development Office is planning to launch a student-alumnae mentoring program and will sponsor Take a Barnard Student to Work Day again this year.
The Higher Education Opportunity program (HEOP) is always looking for alumnae who can be mentors for the students in its program. Barnard students also appreciate the variety of internship opportunities available to them in all sorts of fields; these jobs often help them make or crystallize career decisions.
Mentoring is not only for those of us who live in the tri-state area, you can be a mentor wherever you live. As students graduate and return home, or relocate to a new city for a job or graduate school, ongoing Barnard connections can be reassuring. I can personally endorse this activity because my mentoring relationships have developed into long-term intergenerational friendships. I cherish them; they feed my soul. With today’s technology, you can mentor a student via webcam or through e-mail communications as well as in person. Barnard creativity can find a way, if there is a will! Each of us has something valuable to share with the young women who have come after us, just as we have benefitted from the knowledge and experience of those who preceded us. I am calling on you to make time in your schedule to give of yourself to enrich the Barnard community.
Together, we can accomplish great things.
As ever, Frances Sadler ’72
-Photograph by Elena Seibert '78
After she graduated from Barnard in 1998, Heather Currier Hunt’s life started down the path she had more or less anticipated: She earned an MFA in creative writing from the New School, got married, and settled in a tiny Pennsylvania town where she and her artist husband, Colin, could work on their respective media. They bought a house and had a baby.
Then it was discovered that their daughter, Willa, had a rare genetic defect called Costello Syndrome, which causes global developmental delays and other health problems. “After the shock of the initial diagnosis,” she tells Barnard, “you feel incredibly cut off. As a classic Barnard woman, I’d done all my homework about pregnancy and parenting. And then I had Willa and none of it applied whatsoever. I felt cut off from the life I thought I’d have, from other mothers, from my own family.”
So Hunt did something that, as “a complete Luddite,” she never would have anticipated: She started pouring out her feelings on the Internet. Her Web site, a blog called “Living in Invisible Cities” (see sidebar for the URL), describes her life and feelings as a mother to a special-needs child.
“I found that getting my thoughts down, specifically in the form of a blog, was wildly helpful,” she says. “It was journaling, but not just for me: it was public. To my surprise, other mothers I didn’t know quickly started responding, saying they know what it feels like. It gave me a community feeling, the feeling that it’s OK to say the ugly stuff. It was liberating and helped me move forward.”
Hunt is one of 8 million American women who maintain a “blog” (short for “Web log”), an online diary, political soapbox, or creative space open to any reader who stumbles upon it. Blogs have been a popular form of expression for at least 10 years, but have grown exponentially as a phenomenon since the creation of Blogger, WordPress, and other online services that make it possible for those with no technical expertise to create a personal Web site, often for free. Alumnae interested in reading or setting up a blog, but uncertain about where to start, can go to the new Alumnae Network, alum. barnard.edu, and create one or browse classmates’ profiles for their blogs.
Today, “more than half of American women who [use the Internet] go to social networking sites [such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter] every week,” says Elisa Camahort Page, COO of BlogHer, an online media company focused on women. “That’s 42 million women. It’s more people than download music or share photos online.”
Almost 23 million American women read blogs. Blogging is a “natural medium for women,” she says, because it “fulfills the desire to have conversations, to form bonds. It’s a powerful way for women to change the game for themselves, to create their own platform, be it for personal expression, or political opinions, or business views. For lots of women, blogs have replaced the kitchen table in our time-impoverished lives.”
It’s not just young women who blog. Although only 46 percent of baby boomer women are involved in online social networking, compared to 73 percent of “millennials” aged 18-26, since there are so many more boomers, they number about 3.5 million more than the youngest online social- networkers. According to Camahort Page, almost a third of women age 63 and older are using online social tools, including blogs. (Bloggers tend to be the most active users of all social media platforms.)
The vast majority of bloggers write about their daily lives or thoughts, often with a specific focus—such as the blogs by Barnard graduates on being a young mother with cancer (“Coffee and Chemo”) or on being a Jew who is applying for German citizenship (“Fatherland”)—though some alumnae, such as Caroline Pet Ceniza-Levine ’93, blog on topics related to their businesses (in Ceniza-Levine’s case, career coaching) as a means to garner publicity and new clients.
Those unfamiliar with blogging are often puzzled: Why would one reveal one’s activities and thoughts on as public (and often cruel) a place as the Internet—and who reads these blogs, anyhow? According to Camahort Page, the top four reasons why people blog are entertainment, self-expression, finding a community of like-minded people (since most blogs enable readers to leave comments and thereby engage in dialogue), and sharing information or advice.
Readers often gravitate to blogs that either discuss a common interest or hobby (for example, many foodies enjoy reading “Not Derby Pie” by Rivka Friedman ’05) or, alternatively, expose one to different ways of living or thinking. Heterosexuals may be enlightened by the work of Lily Icangelo ’13, who blogs for the site Autostraddle about her experiences as a lesbian at Barnard.
Not surprisingly, Barnard graduates blog on a wide variety of topics, from becoming a single mother via sperm donor (“Jewish Single Mom By Choice”), to how to dress stylishly and inexpensively for a corporate job (“What Would Krissie Wear”).
Former Centennial Scholar and Barnard Writing Fellow Sasha Soreff ’94, founder and creative director of Brooklyn’s Sasha Soreff Dance Theater, blogs about choreography and the rehearsal process at sashasoreffdance.com. Since 2002, a congenital problem has prevented her from dancing barefoot, leading to the creation of her movement piece “The Dancer Who Wore Sneakers and Other Tales.”
The company’s Web site was already in place, but she added the blog to explore the question of “what it’s like to have my whole style of dance have to change,” she explains. “How do I navigate being a dancer who cannot be barefoot? And how would the act of writing about my creative process change my creative process?”
Now the blog is an important tool for her choreography. “It helps me be more rigorous in what I’m doing,” she says, “more accountable and transparent. It forces me to be more honest about when something isn’t working. I want to be able to articulate what’s going on. Dance is hard for people to understand. It’s not as accessible as theatre or music. I wanted to break down those barriers, communicate what is going on with me while I’m creating, in the hope that it will become more relatable.” She also has open rehearsals, so that audience members can give feedback as Soreff’s work is under construction.
Moneymaker or Hobby
Like other forms of writing, the blogging genre is rarely lucrative, but in some cases it can lead to, or create, income. Eventually, Soreff hopes her blog will draw potential producers or investors, just as Ceniza-Levine’s blog— in conjunction with her newspaper articles, bi-monthly newsletters, and column for CNBC—helps her recruit new clients. “It’s a way for people to get used to [my approach],” Ceniza- Levine says, “and see if what I do will work for them.” Sarah Walker Caron ’01, whose food blog, “Sarah’s Cucina Bella,” attracts 15-20 thousand visitors each month, earns enough revenue from advertising “to pay for the month’s groceries, in a good month.” And Kathy Ebel ’89, author of “Fatherland,” is shopping her blog to book publishers. However, garnering publicity and readers for a blog is a science unto itself, and most people who blog do it simply as a hobby.
Unlike Soreff, who has always considered herself a writer, current student Melissa Lohmann ’10, started as a reluctant blogger. A psychology major, she received a Gilman Scholarship to study Japanese language and culture this past summer and fall, first with the Hokkaido International Foundation program, and then at Doshisha University as part of Barnard’s Study Abroad program. The Gilman Scholarship requires participants to share their experiences or promote studying abroad, so Lohmann started a blog.
“I’d never been interested in reading friends’ blogs,” she says. “I didn’t understand the concept of posting things for everyone else to see until I kept my own.” She quickly discovered that her blog made it easy to stay in contact with friends and family in the States, who could check the Web site to read about her exploits. It also became a journal of her personal growth and a happy introduction to the writing life.
“I almost forgot about the whole service requirement,” she says. “It allowed me to be creative. Before, I used writing to express myself only in school papers and e-mails to friends. This was more voluntary. Now, after writing a good blog post, I feel accomplished, and that I could be a writer. My aunt printed the whole thing—it’s 200 pages—and put it in a binder and is reading it as if it were a novel. It makes me feel passionate about writing.” Still, once she finishes recording the last few weeks of her trip, and the “re-entry” process to the United States, she’s not sure whether she’ll continue the blog project. Blogging, she says, is extremely time-consuming; in the time it took to write an “interesting and factual” post, she could have been experiencing something new outside.
(Gretchen Young, Barnard’s dean for study abroad, maintains a list of blogs by Barnard students abroad at www. barnardabroad.blogspot.com.)
Proceed with Caution
Demonstrating the openness—some might say naïveté—of many young people who blog, Lohmann “never thought about potential employers or professors looking at my blog. If they did, I have nothing to hide. I’m not ashamed of anything. I’m not scared of putting anything on my blog.”
There can be reasons to be scared, if not ashamed. Many authors of “personal blogs”—including Hunt, until recently— write anonymously to maintain their privacy. Others publish their names but blog about extremely limited subjects— Israeli politics, orphotography, rather than one’s marriage or children—so as not to reveal one’s private life on a public Web site.
Including too many details on a blog can lead to awkward situations, such as the time that Kristina “Krissie” McMenamin ’05 wrote on her fashion blog that she’s only once seen her boss in a skirt. “Someone told me later that [my boss] had read it,” McMenamin says. “I freaked out because I didn’t know my boss read my blog. She never said anything to me, and told someone else that she was flattered that I wrote about her. But since then I haven’t mentioned anything about anyone else’s personal style, unless I think it’s really great.” (Camahort Page said that only 3 to 5 percent of abandoned blogs come to an end because the author’s family or employer finds out about it; the most common reasons for giving up blogging are lack of time, and loss of interest in the topic.)
One Barnard alumna, who graduated in the late 1990s, asked to remain anonymous because her blog, “Breeding Imperfection,” focuses on her two children’s multiple, deadly food allergies, and on her older son’s hemophilia. Although those who know her can easily connect her family with the Web site, she doesn’t want her husband’s potential employers (she herself left graduate school to care for her children) to be able to discover, by Googling their names, that their health insurance must cover the older boy’s $11,000-per-month treatments. Nor does she wish her son to be denied health insurance in the future because of her blog.
She blogs partly because writing about parenting helps her evaluate her own performance, and partly because, as an ex-academic, she needs the intellectual exercise, but “the more ruthless aspect of why I blog,” she says, is that problems like bleeding disorders and anaphylactic shock are not “appropriate topics for casual conversation, unless you want to end the conversation.” Like Hunt, she often feels invisible.
“I make my audience listen to me,” she says of her blog, specifying that her site gets only about 30 “hits” a day, and she is writing to “a pretend audience, the girlfriend to whom you can say anything.”
“I have a kid who needs me to stick needles in him,” she continues. “He needs to be comfortable with the needles. So we empower him by teaching him to perform the procedure himself. This gives people the willies. I can’t talk about it. But I can blog about it.” Still, she adds, there is much about her personal life she does not post, since she knows that her parents and in- laws are regular readers.
Camahort Page confirmed that a large percentage of women bloggers are new mothers, mothers of special needs children, or grieving mothers—in other words, women who feel isolated and use blogging as a way to reach out to others who “get it.”
“I’m surprised by the random people who leave comments on my posts,” Hunt says. “It’s a funny feeling—it’s lovely. There are people out there connecting with me. Even if they don’t know the whole me, they know the ‘Living in Invisible Cities’ me. The community of parents online with special-needs kids is so supportive, full of caring people who reach out and offer a kind word. It’s special to be part of that.”
More Barnard bloggers at alumnae.barnard. edu/magazine.
-by Sarah Bronson '95, illustration by Katherine Streeter
Joan Sherman Freilich ’63
Former CFO & Vice-Chair, Consolidated Edison Company of New York
Earning a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a PhD in French, Freilich began her career teaching, ultimately going into academic administration as director of admissions at the College of New Rochelle. But Freilich, who became a trustee of Barnard in 2006, enjoys challenging herself: She enrolled at the Columbia University Business School to earn an executive MBA. In class, she met a public-affairs executive at Con Ed who brought her into the company. Starting in accounting, she moved into power-generation—not the dead- end she imagined because of an enlightened male superior from whom she learned a great deal about power—both electrical and corporate. Her career tracked upward until her recent retirement.
For Freilich, critical components of exemplary leadership— for both sexes—are a vision for the future of the institution and the ability to mobilize resources and personnel to help support and realize the specified goals. How to motivate staff? Says Freilich, “You need to ask as much of yourself as you do your personnel and maintain the highest level of personal integrity.” To enable such mobilization, “deep channels” of communication must be encouraged from the head office down. But even more critical, those channels must also flow from the lower echelons to the top. Managers have to be comfortable enough to share problems with superiors and must be encouraged to do so without fear of being scorned as less than a team player. Espousing a “tough, but fair” ethic, she says a leader needs to know when an error can be forgiven and when it cannot.
Women as leaders do have some advantages over men. It’s easier for many women to feel openly uncertain about a proposal, and to solicit more information, research, and expert opinions before making decisions. But, adds Freilich, “as a leader, you have to be willing to make that decision.” Because they are generally outside the “old boy network, and throw off the balance of a group,” women may also be more willing to speak up in a group dominated by men of similar backgrounds and training. This unbalance, says Freilich, can bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to problem solving, and is a major advantage to encouraging diversity in the workplace.
Dana Points ’88
Editor-In-Chief, Parents Magazine
She got the publishing bug early on; Dana Points always knew that was the field she longed to enter. On the job as editor-in-chief of Parents Magazine since September 2009, Points, an English major, said she was drawn to magazines because they enabled her to help others and bring about change on a large scale. Despite the problems print media face in the electronic age, she has a major role in the business overseeing one of its strongholds: Parents, a monthly magazine published by Iowa-based media behemoth Meredith, has more than 10 million readers.
Before joining Parents, Points served as executive editor of Self, a woman’s magazine specializing in fitness, health, nutrition, and beauty, for nine years. At Parents, she oversees a staff of 30 editors, designers, and writers. As a leader she strives to be clear and decisive. She avoids being too controlling, wanting to give her staff “room to grow.” As an editor, she welcomes input from outsiders. With a healthy respect for publishing deadlines, which, if ignored, can be extremely costly, Points acknowledges the need for wise, effective management and planning while maintaining a healthy respect for “creative” types. “You have to play to the strengths of people who work for you ... to a point,” she says.
Hesitating when asked about differences in leadership styles between men and women, she laughs, “I’ve only worked for women,” but allows that the business, or advertising, side of magazine publishing remains to a large degree a male domain, adding that the founder of Parents was a man: George J. Hecht, a businessman and social-service worker started the magazine in 1926. The first editor, Clara Savage Littledale, was a mother of two and an alumna of Smith. Points is thoughtful about women or men being greater risk-takers; she’s not really sure the issue is entirely gender-based. So many other variables come into play, she adds, among them, personality, family background, and an individual’s experience. She also feels that the current economy might temper the more adventurous.
Alexandra Guarnaschelli ’91
Executive Chef, Butter Restaurant
In a field where top chefs have first names like Daniel, Mario, or Thomas, there’s Alex—short for Alexandra, as in Alexandra Guarnaschelli, the not-so-typical female executive chef of Butter Restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village. Her creative take on a menu of American cuisine with greenmarket ingredients has been drawing the rich, famous, and those who are simply hungry for fresh, delicious, and imaginative food, since 2003.
After graduating from Barnard with a degree in art history, Guarnaschelli worked with restaurateur and chef Larry Forgione, credited with fueling interest in classic American cuisine. This daughter of renowned cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli then went to France to study and work for restaurateur Guy Savoy. Ultimately, he put her in charge of a kitchen in Paris with 10 young French cooks—all men. “It was a life-changing experience,” she says, exhaling. Today, in addition to running the Butter kitchen, she is also a member of the advisory council at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City; new episodes of her TV show, Alex’s Day Off, will begin airing on Food Network early this spring.
Guarnaschelli says she leads by example, “How can I expect my team to work hard if I’m off having cocktails every night during service?” She also thanks them every night, “I recognize my team for the work they do.” In the kitchen, each cook is ultimately an extension of her, and she points out, “I want each person to know they are valued and respected.” Given the diversity of the kitchen staff, she says food is a great unifier, bringing together different cultures over its preparation. It’s something akin to a family meal: people cook dishes that will say something about their background or culture, and share the results.
Guarnaschelli gives much credit for her success to Guy Savoy, who helped her learn how to take charge of a restaurant kitchen. She believes that gender doesn’t consistently affect the way a kitchen is run; women may be more motherly, men more fatherly, but the notion of family reappears. “I care for my staff and make it my business to be as involved in their lives as I can ... I try hard to establish a routine and a bond. And this style of leading has worked for me: I’ve had 80 percent of the same team for over five years.”
Susan Baer ’72
Director of Aviation, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
The first person in the history of this bi-state agency to manage all the major Port Authority airports, Susan Baer has spent the past 34 years of her working life at this Port District created by an interstate compact in 1921. As director, she’s responsible for the safe, efficient running of JFK International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Teterboro, and Stewart International Airport. A major in urban studies and anthropology at Barnard, Baer has an MBA from New York University. She joined the PA as a management analyst and rose through the ranks.
Baer forthrightly ticks off what she considers to be needed leadership qualities: communicate with staff (she’s responsible for 900 aviation staff, 700 dedicated police, and more than 2,000 contract employees); keep focused on the institution’s mission; be able to make the tough decisions; and appear fearless. The latter quality doesn’t imply being fearless. The same skills women use to keep their families running smoothly are the same skills that can make them effective leaders. She feels women can often take on risk more readily than men because women’s egos are less tied to their jobs. Baer also sees women as being less likely to take risks that will jeopardize or hurt families; and they will ask for input from staff before making decisions.
During her time at the Lincoln Tunnel, Baer saw male supervisors with a “paramilitary” management style and structure she was not comfortable with. Asserting herself, she was a more inclusive manager, seeking employees’ feedback and ideas in round-table discussions about various issues, and instituting a family day. Among the aspects of leadership she enjoys most is being able to develop, mentor, and promote individuals, and encourage diversity in the workplace. Baer believes that a diverse staff discourages “lockstep” thinking and encourages creativity. Essentially, she sees her role is that of an enabler and a leader through a changing environment.
A principal goal of the top person is to help staff be creative and solve whatever challenges the group has to face. And today, in the transportation business, those challenges are myriad and, at times, seemingly intractable.
Ellen V. Futter ’71
President, American Museum of Natural History
Frequently included in media lists of “most powerful women,” Ellen Futter graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with an English major. With a law degree from Columbia University, Futter practiced corporate law at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, taking a year’s leave to become interim president of Barnard. And then, at 31, she became Barnard’s president, the youngest ever of a major American college. She led Barnard for 13 years, preserving its independence from Columbia, launching a major fund-raising campaign, and beginning construction of the Sulzberger Tower dormitory, without funding in place, among other accomplishments. In her current position since 1993, Futter has brought a dazzling array of achievements to the AMNH, including the creation of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, 12 new or renovated exhibition halls, and the establishment of the Richard Gilder Graduate School. AMNH is now the first American museum authorized to grant the PhD degree.
Futter brings a strong team orientation to her role as a leader. The top person must bring an organization forward and have a strong plan for growth. In her view, women are inclined to be more collaborative, a notion that goes back to her endorsement of the team concept, and one, she allows, that is not that much different than running a family. She encourages staff—be they curators, professors, or administrators—to think beyond their specific area, to see how a group’s particular role might “fit into a larger context.” Futter explains, “This lifts their work and maximizes the product.” For example, when mounting an exhibit at the museum, staff must function across departments: designers, curators, educators, and installation specialists must work together to bring about an optimal result.
Her list of accomplishments suggests a supreme confidence, almost fearlessness. But Futter characterizes the projects she has led as arising “out of complex and unique decision- making processes....” She describes the whole as “prudent risk-taking,” invoking her previous training as a lawyer. That process involves such considerations as a “full briefing and analysis” of pertinent conditions, understanding the “strategic importance ... of the project,” and “the risks of both action—and inaction.”
-by Annette Kahn, photographs by Brandon Schulman
How—and why—does someone become a successful translator? The stories of four Barnard graduates suggest a somewhat mysterious answer. It seems almost anything can set you on the path to translation: an interest in theatre or history, a mentor, a romance, a talent for playing the lute.
Still, a closer look at their stories turns up patterns. These women share—obviously—a flair for languages. They are strong writers: All four have published their own writing, on topics ranging from sumo wrestling to black francophone literature. Beyond that, they share a conviction that meaning is fragile. They take up the challenge of carrying it across the borders of various languages— and they take their task seriously.
The four women’s beginnings as translators reflect a commitment to language and varied artistic and intellectual pursuits—though not to translation itself. “I never set out to become a translator,” says Sharon Marie Carnicke ’71, who has translated for the stage some 16 works by Russian authors, including Dostoevsky, Ostrovsky and Chekhov. (Hackett Publishing Company recently published a collection of her Chekhov translations, 4 Plays & 3 Jokes.) Carnicke began acting when she was 12, and performed in on- and off- Broadway productions during her time at Barnard, where she earned a degree in Russian literature and culture. “The Barnard language requirement did it,” she says. “As long as I had to learn a language, I thought it would be fun to learn one with a different alphabet.”
She translated on and off in college for theatre students and businesses, but had no thought of translating as a career until 1979, the year she earned a doctorate in Russian/theatre arts at Columbia. That same year director Gene Nye of the Lion Theatre Company was producing Chekhov’s Three Sisters, and asked Carnicke to help him choose from three translations: “All three seemed to misfire for actors,” she says.
She took four days to draft a new translation and then sat in on all the rehearsals, helping guide the actors through the text and revising as the production progressed. “Every major New York newspaper reviewed not only the performance, but the translation—which is rare. After that, directors came to me.”
Falling in Love with French Poetry
As with Carnicke, the seeds of Ellen Conroy Kennedy’s translation career were sewn at Barnard. A member of the Class of 1953, Kennedy translates from French to English and has translated four books. She was nominated for the National Book Award in 1969 for her translation of Albert Camus Lyrical and Critical Essays, a collection of Camus’ writing edited by the late British scholar of French literature Philip Thody. “I fell in love with French poetry at Barnard,” Kennedy recalls. “Though I wasn’t much of a student at the time.”
Kennedy pursued her work as a student and scholar of French literature and poetry under the guidance of Germaine Brée at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She later became interested in black francophone poetry and lived in Washington D.C., where her husband, Padraic Kennedy, worked for JFK’s (no relation) administration.
“I met Gnagna, the wife of the Senegalese ambassador, and we got to chatting about Sartre and Camus,” she recalls. Gnagna gave her Les Ecrivains Noirs de Langue Française by Lilyan Kesteloot (L’Université libre de Bruxelles, 1963). Kennedy eventually translated the book under the title Black Writers in French (Temple University Press, 1974). “I wanted to be the Julia Child of African poets in French—bring their work to Americans in a beautiful context.” Martha Gaber Abrahamsen ’69 became a translator “by accident,” she says. Music played an important role. Abrahamsen entered Barnard in 1966 as a transfer from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. While at Barnard, she performed her own music (think a combination of Joan Baez and traditional folk music) and majored in Oriental civilizations. She worked two summers as an au pair in Finland, and moved to that country after graduation. She wound up playing her folk music all over Finland. She was a hit: Finnish music lovers found this American lute player and her folk songs “unbelievably exotic.”
Those first years in Finland, she had not only her musical success but also work writing and producing for the Finnish Broadcasting Company. A colleague at the station was part owner of a Finnish translation bureau where she also worked for a number of years. “I translated everything from tourist brochures to love letters on a miserable salary,” she remembers. “It was slave labor.”
Abrahamsen also began to develop her career as a freelance translator, taking myriad jobs in order to establish a network of clients and contacts. She eventually moved to Denmark, where she maintains a long-term relationship with Copenhagen’s David Collection (one of her major clients), which includes a world-renowned collection of Islamic art. Over the last 20 years she has translated exhibition texts, online content, and other publications sponsored by the collection.
Today, she translates from Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish into English often in art and architecture, crafts, and history; she’s also proficient in conversational French and Italian. Even so, making a living remains tricky: “I never know what my income for the next year will be.”
From animation to sumo, Lora Sharnoff ’69 works in Tokyo as a freelance translator for clients that have included the University of Tokyo where she worked for 15 years, translating online content, conference papers, and administrative documents as well as interpreting; and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, where she translated official documents, letters, and pamphlets. She also worked as an interpreter at the Ministry. Sharnoff also has translated countless animation scripts for popular Japanese shows such as Dragon Ball and Doraemon. But she most enjoys translating art and photography books (recently a book about kimonos and fabrics), and work on her own books, which include Grand Sumo: The Living Sport and Tradition (Weatherhill 1989, 1993).
The sheer variety of her work reflects the need to make a living as well as the depth and breadth of her interest in things Japanese. Sharnoff studied Japanese literature at Barnard and earned her Columbia master’s in Japanese language and literature before traveling to Kyoto on a Fulbright in 1973. She took most of her undergraduate language classes at Columbia—with mixed results: “When I arrived in Kyoto I could read fourteenth- century Japanese poetry, and could buy something in a store, but I wasn’t able to ask if I could try something on.”
Her conversational skills soon improved, and she decided to stay in Japan after her Fulbright studies were completed. Her first gig was for a feminist press that couldn’t pay her, but paying jobs soon followed.
Theory and Practice
These days, translating plays different roles in each woman’s life. Since 1987, Carnicke has been a professor of theatre and Slavic languages at the University of Southern California, teaching courses on subjects such as Greek and Roman drama, acting theory and Shakespeare. She’s also one of the leading scholars of the Stanislavsky method of acting. Her skill as a translator has informed and inspired much of her work on Stanislavsky, a topic that caught her eye while at the HB Studio, a New York theatre school. “An acting teacher, Aaron Frankel, asked me to look up a term from Stanislavsky’s Russian books,” she recalls. “When I looked at the books, I found that his native language writings bore little resemblance to the familiar English translations.”
That discovery eventually led to her first book, Stanislavsky in Focus, which came out in 1998 and is now in its second edition. She’s currently working on Active Analysis: Stanislavsky’s Approach to Dramatic Texts. Kennedy worked for 13 years on her third book, The Negritude Poets (Viking, 1975, Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1989), an anthology of poetry written by four generations of black French-colonial poets from the Caribbean, Africa, and the Indian Ocean islands, with a foreword by Maya Angelou. Kennedy’s research for the project included the work she did on Black Writers in French, trips to Senegal and Algeria, and as much time reading as she could spare—time that was hard to find while she and her husband were raising a family.
Lost in Translation
Work as a translator can open new horizons, but each culture has its challenges. Sharnoff, for example, soon encountered strong gender bias in Japanese culture (the bias has since diminished, but by no means, disappeared).
The demands also vary from job to job. For example, Carnicke talks about the difficulties of translating Chekhov for the stage. “When I translate, I am really looking to retain all the ambiguities and all the gaps. I don’t want to make the actors’ choices for them, I want to allow the actor to pick this up and hear the voices of the character as I hear them in Russian.”
Abrahamsen’s method for translating technical descriptions of art and architecture is more cut and dried. “I am not at all interested in translation theory—I am a very practical, very down to earth person—I’m very square, and I want things to be correct.”
With that in mind, Abrahamsen often has to research the right architecture terminology in English. “I read the term in Finnish, Danish, etc., and I know what it looks like, but you don’t want to say ‘it goes up and is pointy in the middle.’”
And then, of course, there is the issue of income. Ellen Kennedy’s commitment to her work has earned her a reputation as a translator and scholar, but it hasn’t earned her much money. “I can’t talk about a career in the business—I certainly have serious pursuits and financial support for them, but I couldn’t have lived on what I made as a translator,” she says.
Advice for would-be translators? First, work on your own writing. “If you’re not a good writer in your own language, no matter how good you are with the foreign languages you’re not going to be a good translator,” says Sharnoff.
Second, follow your bliss—and find your niche. “Find a topic that you absolutely love, and then find some strange aspect of it that no one else knows about and make that your specialty,” says Abrahamsen. “That way you’ll be happy and make money.”
-by Harper Willis, illustration by Katherine Streeter
Under normal circumstances, I am not a particularly good cook. But give me a Christmas deadline and three pounds of butter, and I can start rolling the little suckers out like Tater Tots: oatmeal over there; chocolate chip in the middle; sprinkled reindeer on top. My family will “ooh,” they will “aah.” They will pretend to reach for a Clementine but sneak a teacake instead, betrayed by the powdered sugar leaking from their lips. And then they will proclaim, sweetly and predictably, that this year’s cookies are the best. It may not be religion, but it’s certainly a ritual, and a powerful one at that. It’s December, it’s cookies, it’s love.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about ritual a lot. At Barnard, before we all depart for the holidays each year, we crowd for an evening into LeFrak Gymnasium, where several thousand young women down exorbitant quantities of doughnuts, bacon, pancakes, and waffles. This year the theme was disco and so, as “Waterloo” blared and those of a certain age tried to repress the urge to boogie, students in pajamas and neon glo-bracelets juggled their French toast sticks and danced with abandon. There were Muslim students with hijabs and hot-fudge sundaes, Orthodox Jews with kosher pancakes and Columbia boyfriends, vegetarians with soy bacon. On the night before finals, everyone jumps to “I Will Survive.” It’s December, it’s Midnight Breakfast, it’s Barnard.
In previous eras, Barnard’s most treasured tradition was probably the Greek Games, a yearly ritual that unfolded between 1903 and 1967. Even now, when I meet an alumna from that time, she invariably reflects upon the Games, asking me what I know of them, and telling me of her own travails or triumphs. I’ve met women in their 80s who still delight at the memory of having pulled the winning chariot; women in their 70s who woefully recall losing competitions to upstarts. When I look at photos from the Games, I am struck by how engaged the students look, how fully immersed they are in the performances, the competitions, the tableaux. Even 40 years later, the power of ritual jumps off the page—as alive, as potent, as our students dancing in the gym today.
Sometimes I worry that today’s students may not have enough ritual in their lives. Born into a Web-wired, multi-tasked world, they aren’t programmed for elaborate, time-consuming tradition. With so many communities available to them they are hard-pressed to cram any more activities into their jam-packed lives. These centrifugal forces are clearly part of Barnard’s appeal. Our students love being in the city and of the city. Yet I can’t help but wonder if they’re missing part of what used to be the rites of campus; the rituals, like the Greek Games, that drew everyone into a shared experience and created bonds that far outlived the festivities.
As we prepare to move into the glorious new Diana Center, I hope we can take time to think about what community means at Barnard, and what traditions we have, or might envision, that embody the indomitable sense of who Barnard women are and what they will become. I hope you will join in these conversations and I welcome any thoughts you might have.
In the meantime, best wishes for a New Year filled with cookies, and dancing, and whatever rituals you cherish most.
-Photograph by Steve DeCanio
The Nominating Committee of the Alumnae Association of Barnard College submits for your consideration the following slate of candidates to fill each of the positions that will become vacant on July 1, 2010. The committee nominates one person for each position on the Alumnae Association Board of Directors; six candidates have been nominated for three places on the nine- member nominating committee. Thanks to the three outgoing members of this committee: Amrita Master Dalal ’90, this year’s committee chair, and members Barbara Ballinger ’71 and Linda Sweet ’63. Thanks also to our outgoing Board members for leadership in the Alumnae Association: Alumnae Trustee Eileen Lee Moy ’73, Barnard Fund Committee Chair Carol H. Cohen ’59, Bylaws Chair Binta Brown ’95, Director-at-Large Vicki Curry ’90, Fellowship Committee Chair Janet Bersin Finke ’56, and Reunion Committee Chair Nieca Goldberg ’79.
A postcard ballot is included in this issue. Please mail completed ballots no later than May 1, 2010. Results will be shared at the Alumnae Association annual meeting during Reunion.
Myrna Fishman Fawcett ’70
has been actively involved with Barnard for more than 25 years. She served twice as president and/or co-president of the Barnard-in-Washington Club, three times on the Alumnae Association’s board, and most recently, as chair of the president’s Advisory Council. She specializes in elder law, and represents families of special-needs children and persons with disabilities. Among her volunteer and pro bono activities are the Washington, D.C., bar association, the district’s Bioethics Network, the D.C. Jewish Community Center, the Theater J Council, Mitchell Gallery, board of St. John’s College, Leadership Greater Washington, the Washington Metropolitan Dialogue of Civic Leaders on Faith, the board of her co-op, and she is a member of the ethics committee of a local nursing home. Fawcett graduated from Georgetown University Law Center. She is also a member of the Maryland, New Jersey, and New York bars, and the National Academy of Elder Lawyers.
Barnard Fund Committee Chair
Daphne Fodor Philipson ’69
retired as a partner at the private equity firm of E. M. Warburg Pincus, where she focused on investor relations. A certified public accountant, she also has an MBA from Columbia’s Business School. She is on the boards of both planned parenthood Hudson peconic and the Leadership Council of planned parenthood Federation of America. Daphne currently serves on the Barnard Fund Committee and has been on the Fellowship and Leadership Assembly Committees. She received the Award for Service to Barnard in 2009.
Lois Lempel Weinroth ’63
is a partner in the structured- finance group at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP. Originally in the corporate group, she has practiced law at the firm since her 1968 graduation from Columbia Law School. A zoology major, she worked at a publishing company to assist in creating a college- science-textbook division, and at an advertising agency. Weinroth is a director of the Centre Pompidou Foundation and MCC Theatre Company and is the president of her co-op/condo. She previously served on the president’s Advisory Council. A recent widow, Lois has two step-children and four grandchildren.
Barbi Appelquist ’98
is a Barnard Alumnae Admissions Representative (BAAR) and active with the Barnard Club of Los Angeles. She has served on the Alumnae Association’s Bylaws, Leadership Assembly, and Nominating Committees and as a class co-vice president. Married with one daughter, Barbi practices pro bono corporate and nonprofit law in Los Angeles.
Fellowship Committee Chair
Kimberlee Halligan ’75
majored in art history and pursued graduate study in linguistics at Columbia University’s School of Arts & Sciences. previously in marketing communications and event planning in both the profit and not-for-profit sectors, she has been working in Manhattan residential real estate for the past seven years. Halligan, a licensed associate real estate broker with prudential Douglas Elliman, now specializes in the sales of co-ops, condos, and investment properties. Her tips for first-time home buyers have appeared on AOL’s real estate Web site. She has been a member real estate panels for Barnard’s Financial Fluency, Barnard Business and professional Women (BBPW), and Columbia University’s Work/Life Housing initiative. In addition to serving on the Fellowship Committee, Halligan is co- president of BBPW and a member of Barnard’s professional and Leadership Development Committee; she also served on the Reunion Committee for the 35th reunion of her class and is now class networking chair.
Reunion Committee Chair
Patricia Tinto ’76
an English major, launched a communications career after responding to a job posted at Barnard for a community affairs coordinator in the New York State Senate. Her career has included serving as a speechwriter, communications director for the Senate Finance Committee, press officer for Fernando Ferrer, and media relations director for a citywide political campaign. Tinto has led grassroots and media efforts for health-care organizations, public-benefit corporations and nonprofit groups. She’s studied at the Università per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy. Previously, she has been a member of the AABC board, Regional Networks Committee chair, and president of the Barnard Club of Connecticut.
Nominating Committee Candidates
Jessica Gillmor Adams ’99
majored in economics, and, after working in leveraged finance at Salomon Smith Barney, she became an institutional investor at TCW, Kingsland. She then moved to primus, where she was the portfolio manager of a $400 million high-yield fund. In 2008, she moved from New York City to Nashville, Tennessee, where she now lives with her husband, James, and is a stay-at-home mother to their son, Clayton. While in New York, she was an active fund-raiser for the New York Junior League, co-chairing the Spring 2008 silent auction, and for the young Volunteers for Mount Sinai Hospital. In 2009, she chaired two events to benefit the Nashville Ballet and recently has become active in fund-raising for juvenile diabetes. She cherished her years at Barnard, and welcomes the opportunity to become significantly more involved in perpetuating its legacy for other women.
Sharon Dizenhuz ’83
has been a journalist for more than 20 years, 10 of which were at New York 1 News, as anchor and senior correspondent, covering everything from top New York City cultural and pop culture events, to both attacks on the World Trade Center, to local election returns. She credits her double major at Barnard in English literature and art history for her writing strengths, love of New York City, and the world of ideas. She has served as a BAAR for nearly a decade, and is now involved with the Westchester Alma Maters. Currently working on a book, she is also raising her three small children, with the hope that her eldest, Samantha, 11, will enter the Barnard Class of 2020.
Noessa Higa ’98
is president of Visionaire Media, a multi-platform media company dedicated to producing films, documentaries, and social media that promote cross-cultural dialogue. She is also involved in iDiplomacy, a public- private initiative to empower individuals to participate in public diplomacy. Higa majored in American studies with a concentration in film, and has been an active BAAR in Los Angeles since graduation.
Myra Greenspoon Kovey ’65
a history major at Barnard, went on to graduate from George Washington University School of Law. Now retired from practice, she has spent many years as a member of the Barnard-in-Washington Club board of directors, and several as co-president and president of the club. Myra has just completed a term as AABC Regional Networks chair and also served on this year’s reunion Awards Committee. She and her husband live in Chevy Chase, Md.
Ulana Lysniak ’87
an English major, remains involved with Barnard as president of her class, member of the Reunion Committee, and now as her class fund co-chair. After graduation she played basketball professionally in Europe, was an assistant coach of basketball at the 1996 Olympics, and was elected into Columbia University’s Inaugural Hall of Fame Class. She is now pursuing her doctoral degree at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Ula has been a professor in the exercise science and physical education department at Brooklyn College for the past 10 years. She has completed 21 marathons, including the Boston Marathon the past three years.
Deborah Newman Shapiro ’79
is the president and CEO of WFS Services, Inc., a full-service receivables management firm providing a variety of technology-based services to the hospital and physician marketplace. In addition to her Barnard degree, she has an MBA from Ohio State University. Shapiro has served the College as her class president and was the Alumnae Association Reunion Committee chair from 2005 to 2007. A BAAR, she is also her class correspondent, a member of the Fellowship Committee, and a representative of Barnard at local college fairs.
Thank you for the article on Barnard women in politics. I would like to add another: my sister Rachel Powell Norton ’88, who won a citywide election in November 2008 to become a commissioner on the Board of Education for the San Francisco Unified School District. The support and expertise she gained from participating in Emerge, California’s political leadership training program for Democratic women, was essential to her victory. I am especially proud of her for being a model for her own two girls, ages 10 and 11, who have seen their mother become an elected official.
—Daphne Powell ’85
San Francisco, Calif.
What the Leap is About
I am honored and delighted to have been selected for a Barnard profile. I would, however, like to correct a misattribution. I do not believe that good science seeks to “prove what we already know.” I know firsthand from my 30-year work on the frontiers of empathy and emotional development that nothing engenders more surprise, new questions, and expanded horizons than good research. My career switch from science to art may resonate with others’ life transitions wherein innovation and discovery link creativity across different domains. I became dissatisfied with academia because of increasing bureaucratic constraints, not a diminishing interest in psychology. Art challenged my creative growth, demanded time to learn in different ways, and required me to explore skills left less developed during my psychology career. As in science, I endeavor to contribute and communicate well in the somewhat riskier context of art. I expect that my yearnings are not so different from those of many Barnard women who seek to complete themselves, to do jobs left undone that are felt as uniquely theirs to do. The quotation about reaching a turning point and taking a great “leap of doubt” is entirely correct. Cordially and with affection, my best wishes to you...
—Janet Strayer ’66
Grazie mille tutti
I was thrilled to see the cover of the Fall 2009 issue with photos of Dr. Lorch and her family! Without reading the inner pages I knew instantly that her companions were her daughters and granddaughter. The resemblance is unmistakable.
How happy I am to know she is well and has such a lovely family. Dr. Lorch was a major influence in my life, not only while at Barnard, but for years after. So many remembered lessons—life lessons as well as Italian—a remarkable woman and mentor.
Please remember me to her with great respect and affection from “La Livornese.”
—Maria Livornese Fitzgibbon ’53
Fort Lee, NJ
I’m glad to see that some wrote in about the negative effects of having printing artistry take precedence over readability. I appreciate that you will not be using “pale colors” in the future.
May I go further and ask that you revisit the point size of the typeface (often soooo small). I also find the frequent use of sans- serif type especially hard to read, when it is so small. I’m sure there is a hidden meaning in the places you use sans-serif. . . . And putting the medium-grey screen behind the Class Notes hardly adds to the look of the page. It is somber and makes the news hard to read because of the low contrast on the page.
You put so much (good) effort into producing Barnard, and I’d like to enjoy reading it even more.
—Karen Hall Herrel ’63
San Mateo, Calif.
A number of us have been discussing the Fall 2009 Barnard Magazine. We are sad to report that many of us share a discomfort with the most recent issue, specifically with its focus on legacy families. While women’s desire to pass the Barnard experience on to their daughters, nieces, and granddaughters is a testament to the wonderful education that Barnard offers, we feel that focusing on these stories places undue emphasis on the privileged background that so many women at Barnard are lucky to come from. We acknowledge that not all legacy families come from positions of privilege, but a diverse representation of socioeconomic backgrounds seemed somewhat lacking in this article. . . .
The overemphasis on legacy families seems to us connected to a second and more general point: the magazine’s focus, time and again, on the publicly lauded career and financial success of its alumnae. . . . We all know Barnard alumnae who work tirelessly to support others ... as social workers, teachers, nurses, criminal advocates, peace Corps volunteers, and so on. ... [T]heir work is important [and they] will likely never receive public recognition... or even make enough money to make a sizable contribution to the College. . . .
Our vision of Barnard is not of a bastion of privilege and inherited access, but of a community of creative, insightful, and hard- working women with diverse experiences and goals.... We hope to see our vision more fully represented in future issues of the magazine.
—Katherine Delaney ’01
[co-signed by 18 Class of 2001 alumnae, three Class of 2004 alumnae, and one Class of 2003 alumna]
Editors’ response: Thank you for writing and sharing your concerns with us; we always welcome such comments as they tell us our content is being read and discussed. We do apologize if our intent was misread, but our aim with the legacy story was twofold: to show the great loyalty that Barnard inspires and the high- quality education that students here receive.
Despite so-called “generation gaps,” many young women do consider attending Barnard because a grandmother, mother, or great-aunt attended and felt the College had transformed her life for the better.
Three of the family stories involved sisters of the same generation who chose to attend the College because of the superior education they knew they would receive. (That knowledge superseded any notions of sibling rivalry.)
Please know that we strive to insure that our pages convey the great diversity Barnard encompasses, and encourages with a broad financial-aid program. Recently, articles have been written about alumnae working in difficult voluntary positions: one feature spoke about several alumnae working in Afghanistan; another article from an alumna commented about her life and work in Panama. Both were in Spring ’08. Interviews with two environmental activists were featured in Spring ’09. Additionally, several extended profiles within Class Notes have featured alumnae who are doing valuable work to benefit others without great financial reward; they include a humanitarian in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and an animal-rescue activist in Florida, among others.
Finally, we are always open to suggestions from our readers. Please feel free to get in touch with us about specific story ideas or alumnae you think might enrich the pages of Barnard.
The Last Hurrah
I just received Barnard Magazine for the first time—my daughter, Alison Palmintere, matriculated as a first-year at Barnard this year.
This is a great magazine, and I know my daughter’s grandmother would love being on the mailing list for this. Would it be possible for you to send her a copy of the magazine and put her on the mailing list going forward?
-Nelda Palmintere PA13
The full name of the illustrator of the art in “Alumnae in the Political Arena” was omitted from the Fall issue. It is Shane Harrison. We regret the error.