No matter what your age, we all want to keep moving forward. We all want progress, in our own lives and in the world at large. One of the joys of my presidency has been speaking to alumnae who are engaged in the world and interested in learning. One of the major strategic goals of the AABC was to create programs that would engage alumnae and reconnect them to the college. We have had several very successful programs. Alumnae have returned to the classroom in record numbers, and thanks to the digital age, this classroom is now accessible to alumnae who live around the globe.

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch excerpts from Professor Mary Gordon’s online course, The Modern Novel, and saw exactly how alumnae of all ages participated virtually. Forty alumnae took the full course, listening to 10 taped lectures and participating in five real-time webinars. Some submitted journal entries to Professor Gordon for her response and comments; most alumnae enrolled for the lectures and webinars only. It was fascinating to see and hear the online discussion between Professor Gordon and her “students.” Off to the side, there were alumnae “speaking” with each other and asking insightful questions. 

In another first for Barnard, 21 alumnae took a 10-week on-campus course, Revisiting the Classics: Origins to the Renaissance, taught by members of the Barnard English and classics departments. This course proved so popular that it will continue in the spring as Revisiting the Classics: Enlightenment to Postmodernism.

Taking advantage of the art world in New York, Conversations in Contemporary Art, has been offered three times, and two sections will be offered in the spring. Taught by critic, editor, and curator Kathleen Madden ’92, the course brings alumnae to studios, galleries, and museums to learn how to ask key questions when talking about today’s art.

Alumnae also had the opportunity to talk about their personal stories as they studied memoir writing with Erica Mann Jong ’63. At the conclusion of her popular writing course in the fall of 2011, class members decided to keep up the conversation with regular meetings of a Barnard writers group. 

Throughout the year, talks by visiting speakers and distinguished alumnae are available to anyone with online access. Wherever you are, you can listen to Dr. Helene Gayle ’76, president of CARE USA, speak on issues in global health or hear a reading by author Edwidge Danticat ’90, who spoke on campus about “creating dangerously,” via Barnard’s YouTube channel. Of course, people all over the world cheered along online as President Obama advised the Barnard graduating Class of 2012 to “fight for your seat at the head of the table.” Whether you were watching at home, at work, or at the sold-out party in midtown Manhattan, alumnae everywhere could share their Barnard pride as the President of the United States spoke at Commencement.

How exciting to explore worlds past, present, and future through literature and art, guided by Barnard’s amazing faculty, and to have the opportunity to share ideas with other Barnard women, just as we did as students. With digital tools, alumnae can share in these experiences wherever they live. 

Take a moment and check in with Barnard this year. Remember what it was like to discover new ideas or delve into a topic in a new and interesting way. The College for extraordinary women is also the College of extraordinary alumnae who never stop learning. 

All my best wishes,

Mary Ann LoFrumento ’77