Grand Opening

The new Cheryl and Philip Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning showcases Barnard’s commitment to collaboration, technology, and sustainable design

Barnard at Dusk
Photo by Magda Biernat Photography

Barnard celebrated the grand opening of The Cheryl and Philip Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning on October 3. Built on the former site of Lehman Hall, The Milstein Center is a dynamic hub of academic and intellectual life on campus and reinforces the College’s commitment to sustainability and climate action. With a base of five floors, a tower of eleven floors adjacent to Altschul Hall, and a facade made of patinated zinc shingles that harmonize with the surrounding brick, stone, and concrete buildings, the 128,000-square-foot building, designed by the award-winning firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), is a distinctive place that facilitates dialogue and collaboration among students and faculty.

“The opening of The Milstein Center marks an important milestone for Barnard,” said President Sian Leah Beilock. “Its completion supports the creation of new pathways for learning that build on our foundation of academic excellence and inquiry across disciplines. We are tremendously thankful for the Milsteins’ support of this beautiful building and for SOM’s innovative design that will inspire students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and friends of the College for years to come.”

The Center is named in honor of Cheryl Glicker Milstein ’82, P’14, the newly elected chair of Barnard’s Board of Trustees, and her husband Philip Milstein ’71CC, P’14, who donated $25 million for the project. The Milsteins have long been supporters of Barnard. Cheryl was elected to the Board in 1999 and has chaired or co-chaired seven of the last eighteen Barnard galas, the College’s annual fundraiser for scholarships. The Milsteins’ gift was supplemented by gifts from more than 160 alumnae, parents, and friends of Barnard, including a gift of $25 million from the Tow Foundation on behalf of Leonard Tow and daughter Emily Tow Jackson ’88 and a $20 million gift from Diana T. Vagelos ’55 and P. Roy Vagelos, MD, ’54PS. Like the Milsteins, the Tows and Vageloses have supported the College for three decades.

“We are so pleased to share in this moment with the Barnard community,” said Cheryl Milstein. “We believe that every element of the new building will enhance the learning experience of each student on Barnard’s campus and provide our stellar faculty with innovative tools and spaces they need to teach and collaborate with the next generation of women leaders.”

About the Building

The $137 million building will likely be certified LEED Silver by the U.S. Green Building Council, meaning The Milstein Center has met stringent criteria under the world’s most widely used green-building rating system. The Center features approximately 12,000 square feet of green roofs and outdoor terraces that reduce the urban-heat-island effect, cut energy use and stormwater runoff, and provide inviting spaces for study, contemplation, and connection with nature on campus. Through its design and through the curricula taught there, The Milstein Center illustrates Barnard’s commitment to climate action.

The Milstein Center houses the Library and features a core collection of books, journals, zines, and special collections that support a strong liberal arts education; enhanced storage for the entire Archives collection; and a dedicated Archives reading room for scholarship. It also is the new home of the Barnard Center for Research on Women and the Athena Center for Leadership Studies; offices for several departments and programs; three large, light-filled seminar rooms and other learning spaces, including the Lynn Chu Classroom; the Ina R. and Howard J. Drew Conference Center; more than 370 inviting student spaces for both active and quiet study; and a grab-and-go coffee bar.

Innovative Centers

At the heart of The Milstein Center are seven innovative Centers that fuse the teaching and learning of myriad disciplines from across time with twenty-first century technologies and that emphasize the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) regardless of the area of study.

“In today’s world, interactive and interdisciplinary learning is essential for both intellectual development and preparation for life after Barnard,” said Provost Linda Bell, dean of the faculty, and Claire Tow professor of economics. “The Milstein Center provides tools to enable everyone in the Barnard community—faculty and alumnae, as well as students—to engage in deep learning and growth.”

Alumnae Opportunities

The Milstein Center is not just for students. Alumnae are also invited to browse and borrow from the Library collection, including the zine collection. Alumnae must bring a Barnard Alumnae ID card to the circulation desk. (ID cards can be obtained at the Barnard Alumnae Relations office on the 13th floor of the Interchurch Center on the northwest corner of Claremont Avenue and West 119th Street.) Alumnae programs will also be held on occasion at the individual centers. 

What the Center Faculty Directors are Saying

Gabri Christa, assistant professor of professional practice, and director of the Movement Lab: The Movement Lab is a flexible space for movement research, exploration, and production. It will be a hub for collaboration and cross-fertilization with other disciplines. Interaction with cameras, computers, digital technologies, and science create experiences that open up possibilities of multidisciplinary research and investigation.  

The Movement Lab will enable learning about gaming, motion capture, performance design, animation, virtual reality, transmedia dance, film, projection design, screen dance, and more. The Lab will have a close relationship with the Media Center.

Janet Jakobsen, the Claire Tow Professor and chair of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, former director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW), and the Digital Humanities Center’s interim faculty director: The humanities have always been connected to technology—from the first technologies of writing to the development of the book to explorations of different artistic technologies, such as painting or photography. The DHC will ask: How can new digital technologies help us teach and do research, and what impact do these new technologies have on how students learn? The DHC will also provide support for research on the humanistic implications of digital technologies.

To read these interviews in full and additional interviews with the directors of the Centers, visit

Photos of the grand opening will be featured in our Winter 2019 issue.

Latest IssueFall 2020

In this issue, you'll read about the alumnae healthcare workers who served on the frontlines of the pandemic, Barnard women's resilience during historic crises, a personal story on protest, the 19th Amendment reexamined, and more.