The partnership between Barnard College and Columbia University is unique in American higher education. It dates back to Barnard's founding in 1889 and the conviction of Columbia's 10th president, Frederick A. P. Barnard, that women deserved an education in New York City comparable to that received by men. Since that time, both institutions have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship, and have reaffirmed and expanded the tenets of the original agreement that bound Barnard and Columbia together.
The University and the College are intertwined in countless ways: Students at each institution can take courses at the other, live in the same residence halls, share access to twenty-two libraries, and compete together in the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium. Barnard students receive the diploma of the University signed by the presidents of both institutions, and the College is represented in the University Senate. At the same time, Barnard is legally separate and financially independent from the University; sets its own student fees; has a separate endowment, administration and faculty, and admissions office; and undertakes its own fund-raising. Barnard provides education to all university undergraduates in architecture, dance, education, theater, and urban studies, while programs in computer science, statistics, and engineering are centered at Columbia. Barnard women also take leadership positions in many Columbia-sponsored organizations, from the Spectator, the nation's second-oldest student daily, to spearheading Community Impact, an umbrella volunteer action group.
Both Barnard College and Columbia University benefit from their historic relationship, which allows each to leverage the assets and experience of the other—in classrooms, on the athletic fields, in extracurricular activities and community service organizations, with expanded curricular offerings, and shared faculty resources—and to claim a collective advantage unique among their peers.