Barnard College Commencement
Monday, May 14, 2012
New York City

Photo: David Wentworth/Barnard College

To the graduating Class of 2012, I bring greetings and warmest wishes from the Board of Trustees.  I could not sleep last night thinking about how it would feel to share the stage with President Obama presiding [Applause] over Barnard’s Commencement.  It is somehow surreal, but then again, it is not surprising.  This is Barnard, after all [Applause].  An institution that has never been stronger, more vibrant and more powerful and it is that power that we also share with you today and celebrate.

Today, you leave Barnard’s campus and you begin your life’s journey.  We have, no doubt, that you will all go on to do great things.  Your professors, your advisors, your entire four years here have prepared you well to succeed in whatever endeavors you pursue.  But it may not be obvious right now as you exit the Barnard gates in the power of the network and the sisterhood that you leave behind and will continue to find throughout your lives.

Over the past several years, I’ve traveled with President Spar around the attending Barnard’s Women’s Leadership Symposiums and it is remarkable that no matter what place we are in the world, I can always identify a Barnard woman [Applause].  What is it about Barnard women that makes us so easy to spot?  [Laughter.]  It is a confidence that from innate intelligence, a sophistication gathered from living in one of the greatest cities in the world [Applause], access to the finest education but is something more than that.  It is the power of the bonds that we form as students with this great institution and with each other and that we know we can depend on for the rest of our lives. 

I still marvel thirty years after graduation, how I can always count on a Barnard alum in my time of need. Whether I am seeking a business connection, advice from a medical professional, a shoulder to lean on, I find myself going back to my Barnard friends and they’re always there for me. This close network, this sacred bond, is what makes a Barnard woman so identifiable. So, I ask you to honor and nurture this powerful connection as you leave today. 

Our great faculty, administration and my fellow trustees will work tirelessly to ensure that Barnard remains vibrant and strong.  But, we need you – our prize students and now alums – to help us with our mission.  Today, we ask you, please, come back often. Attend your reunions, give back and support this powerful sisterhood and keep that Barnard brand strong. We can’t wait to hear your great stories, to see your life’s work unfold and know that in some corner of the globe, one day we will immediately recognize you as a powerful extraordinary Barnard woman.

Congratulations and Godspeed.  [Applause.]