President Debora Spar at Commencement; Photo by Asiya Khaki '09

After nearly nine years leading the College, Barnard President Debora Spar will become president and chief executive officer of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in March.

Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald ’81, chair of the Barnard Board of Trustees, said, “Debora Spar, quite simply, has transformed and elevated Barnard over these past nine years, building on its distinctive strengths, fortifying the College’s financial position, and pioneering important new initiatives in areas ranging from women’s leadership, technology, and the arts to internationalization and campus life, while also providing national leadership on a broad range of issues.”

In an email letter to the college community in November, Spar noted the difficulty of her decision. “These are strange times to be embarking on such a big move,” she wrote. “I have been more impressed than ever by the importance of Barnard’s mission and the depth of this community’s commitment to women’s education, women’s empowerment, and social justice for all. I have been deeply moved to hear our students’ concern for the world they are inheriting, and their determination to harness their energies to make it a better place.”

Following President Spar’s announcement, Barnard’s Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldberg was announced as the interim president in a letter by Caruso-FitzGerald sent to the college community in December outlining the transition plan. Goldberg is responsible for managing the College’s budget and finances, as well as campus services including public safety, facilities, human resources, and information technology. Goldberg was chosen because of his expertise and familiarity with the inner workings of the College, from its financial needs and concerns of students, faculty, and staff to the capital campaign. He chaired the Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment and continues to oversee the construction of the new teaching and learning center.  

The Presidential Search Committee is accepting nominations with the goal of moving swiftly while conducting an in-depth and thoughtful search. Committee members include Caruso-FitzGerald in her role as board chair, co-chairs Cheryl Glicker Milstein ’82 P ’14 and Ina Drew P ’13 in their role as trustees, and Diana Vagelos ’55, Frances Sadler ’72, Jyoti Menon ’01, and Merryl Tisch ’77. They are joined by professors Peter Balsam (psychology), Alexander Cooley (political science), Karen Fairbanks (architecture), and Monica L. Miller (English and Africana Studies). Associate Dean Nikki Youngblood-Giles and Search Coordinator DiAnn Pierce, in her role as special assistant to the president, are joined by students Angela Beam ’18 and Jocelyn Cheng ’18. The firm of Spencer Stuart will assist Barnard in the presidential search, as they did in 2008.

The Committee will hold a series of community-wide listening sessions to share thoughts on this important transition. The Committee is also seeking nominations for President of the College, which may be submitted online or emailed to