How a Barnard Magazine cover sparked the imagination of Virginia-based artist Alan Rubin
When I sat down to write my first editor’s letter, for the Spring 2020 issue, we were a few weeks into a statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As our reality quickly changed over the following months, so did the content in the Magazine. On a near-daily basis, I learned about the countless instances of students, staff, faculty, and alumnae who, in response to this historic crisis, were spurred to action. They served their communities, launched new projects, advocated for systemic change, and engaged in important yet difficult conversations. Over the past 12 months, it was critical that we tell these stories, however difficult and complicated they may be.
But as we worked on this issue, we experienced a sea change yet again. With the nationwide rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program, there’s a palpable sense of relief and optimism. While the pandemic still impacts our everyday lives, we find ourselves making plans, ready to step out and venture to new places, and eager to see those people from whom we’ve been apart for so long. For my colleagues and I, we’re looking forward to the time in the not-so-distant future when we can come together to send the Magazine to press from our office on campus.
The Spring issue seeks to capture this shift — this undercurrent of hope. In these pages, you’ll read about different generations of Barnard women who’ve uncovered new opportunities, even through the challenges of this past year. In “Last Word,” Michele Lynn ’82 writes an essay on her decision to get a master’s in her late 50s, which required her to adapt to a whole new learning environment nearly 40 years after she graduated from Barnard. Our feature story spotlights Susan Rovner ’91, P’23, who has been the creative force behind numerous TV hits. She tells Barnard Magazine about her new role as chairman of entertainment content for NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. And then there’s Susan J. Feingold ’61, who, after decades working in the field of artificial intelligence, began composing operas later in life — often inspired by her career in STEM and by climate change. As Susan tells us, “It’s never too late to take a step in a new direction.”
Throughout the issue, you’ll find some comic relief and lighthearted moments, from our “Wit & Whimsy” column by humor writer JiJi Lee ’01 to our sketchbook feature on New Yorker cartoonist Amy Hwang ’00. It goes to show that the Barnard community has faced the past year with spirit, pluck, and plenty of imagination, and it gives me much hope and enthusiasm for the future.