Barnard College Announces New Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being

Located on the first floor of Barnard Hall, the new center will provide a 360-degree perspective on personal well-being

By Veronica Suchodolski ’19

Illustration of the new LeFrak Center for Wellbeing

On October 22, 2020, President Sian Leah Beilock announced the creation of the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being at Barnard College, which expands the Feel Well, Do Well @ Barnard campaign established last year.

The new center, made possible by a generous gift from the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation, will ensure that all Barnard students have access to comprehensive physical and mental health, holistic wellness, and financial literacy support services and are equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to thrive at Barnard and beyond. 

“I am thrilled to formally announce this new Francine LeFrak Center, which will truly symbolize the idea that well-being — especially for women and girls — is not just about physical health but about mental health, financial health, and the ability to dictate one’s path and purpose,” said President Beilock.

As a centralized hub for the College’s many wellness initiatives — including the Feel Well, Do Well @ Barnard campaign — the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being will provide a state-of-the-art facility for financial fluency and holistic wellness programs, a fitness center, and dance spaces. 

To create the center, the College will renovate the first floor of the former gymnasium in Barnard Hall. There, students will be able to learn about and access the full range of initiatives intended to support all aspects of well-being. 

“This is a dream come true and a culmination of my work supporting women that I have done for so many years,” said Francine A. LeFrak. “I am delighted to be on the forefront of this innovative and more complete definition of wellness. I have seen firsthand how wellness is an intersection of financial, physical, and mental well-being. This center will be a point of hope for women.”  

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Francine LeFrak Photo
Francine A. LeFrak

Design and planning of the Francine LeFrak Center is already underway. Construction in Barnard Hall is slated to begin in January 2022, and the new space is expected to be fully operational by September 2023.

The plans for the new center come on the heels of the 2016 renovation of the former LeFrak Gymnasium, named for the late Ethel Stone LeFrak ’41 and her late husband, Samuel J. LeFrak. Ethel served as a Barnard Trustee from 1981 to 1985. That project turned the gymnasium into a split-level space, with the second floor holding more than 50 offices and conference rooms and the first floor serving as a temporary flex space to house the library during the construction of the Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning.

The Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being serves as a testament to Francine A. LeFrak’s strong personal and philanthropic commitment to women’s empowerment and the generous continuation of her family’s legacy at Barnard. 

“Like my mother, Ethel, Class of ’41, the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being is a trailblazer in the wellness and empowerment of women. I am so proud and excited to be working closely with Sian on this project,” says LeFrak. “With the center on its campus, I believe that Barnard is destined to be a leader in health and wellness and a model for others to follow. As a woman and a philanthropist, I can’t think of anything that could be closer to my heart.”

As part of the new Francine LeFrak Center, Barnard will also create an advisory board comprising leading professionals with expertise in financial, physical, and mental well-being. The board, once created, will convene twice a year to discuss topics and issues around girls’ and women’s well-being and serve as advisors to the center as it develops new programming and initiatives.

“Barnard has a rich legacy of our community giving back to our current students,” said Cheryl Glicker Milstein ’82, P’14, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Barnard is very fortunate to have the continued support of the LeFrak family, and I look forward to working with Francine on developing the Francine LeFrak Center for our community.”

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