Photograph by Brandon Schulman

As I write this letter students are back on campus and the renovation of the LeFrak Gymnasium is advancing; alumnae, trustees, faculty, and the administration joined students for Convocation at Riverside Church on September 10 to kick off the new academic year. While Convocation has been an ongoing event during the start of each academic year, this year’s Convocation repeated the special celebration of Barnard’s 125th-anniversary ceremony, encouraging broader participation and the opportunity for the extended Barnard community to welcome incoming students.

Participating in Convocation made me feel like a student again, and allowed those in attendance to reflect on the unique opportunities that Barnard affords its students. Alumnae came away inspired and feeling a connection to the College and the students. President Spar, Dean Hinkson, Provost Bell, student leaders, and one of our trailblazing alumnae, Dara Richardson-Heron ’85, encouraged the students to take full advantage of the opportunities and the possibilities that Barnard and New York City offer.

Richardson-Heron, who was Convocation’s keynote speaker, talked to us about her leadership journey, a story of personal ambition and resilience. She told of going from audacious 2-year-old growing up in Oklahoma to ambitious Barnard premed student, enduring a battle with cancer, and becoming a leader on a national stage, currently as CEO of YWCA USA. She introduced us to her prescription for leadership and success, stressing the importance of setting aspirational goals and persevering despite setbacks.  See a video of Convocation.

I hope you will take advantage of opportunities to attend a Barnard event on campus, virtually, or in your community. In September, we livestreamed a panel discussion with Edwidge Danticat ’90 as part of the Barnard Center for Research on Women’s series Caribbean Feminisms on the Page. (Go to bcrw.barnard.edu for the discussion or see page 6 of this issue.) We plan to offer more such online programs during the year. Dean of International and Global Strategy Lisa Hollibaugh recently met with alumnae in London and Paris to update them on exciting international initiatives as well as the Global Symposium scheduled for March 18 in Paris. For those in the tristate area, Professor Kimberly Marten, an expert on Eurasian politics and affairs, is scheduled to speak December 1 at a Project Continuum event that is open to the alumnae community.

Wishing you a productive fall. I look forward to seeing many of you over this new academic year and to more opportunities to connect, give back, and be inspired.

Terry S. Newman ’79