My favorite memory of President Spar was when she was the special guest at our event "Popsicles with President Spar." It was awesome for students to be able to chill with the president of the college!
Throughout my three years at Barnard, I’ve developed a relationship with President Spar that is among the most meaningful in my life. From speaking with her one-on-one, to her saying hello to every student at Midnight Breakfast with waffles in hand, to her giving a guest lecture in my Economics of Gender course, DSpar exemplifies what it is to be an approachable, committed, and awe-inspiring president. I am honored to call her my mentor.
Through the Global Symposia, strong support for faculty research abroad, and other mechanisms, President Spar has made a staunch effort to broaden Barnard's global scope. My time at Barnard has been all the more meaningful thanks her efforts, and I'm deeply grateful to her. Thank you for your dedication President Spar, and good luck at Lincoln Center!
President Spar inspired me to push beyond academic performance at Barnard. I remember delivering my speech at the scholarship celebration when she told me afterwards, with tears in her eyes, how proud she was of me. For the president of Barnard College to have known my first name, for her to tell me how proud she was of me, and for me to keep moving forward was a highlight of my college career.
My fondest memory of President Spar occurred when my friend Juli and I attended her office hours to discuss the future state of WBAR (wbar.org) and how it needs a new space on campus. President Spar listened to our concerns and asked about our individual shows and music tastes. Who knew she loves Billy Joel??
Without President Spar at the helm, my time at Barnard could not have reached its truest potential. She respected the needs of the student body, including those religious students like myself. President Spar, who inspired hundreds of Barnard women through impassioned oration, strength of character, and moves in Zumba, will be missed.
I always looked forward to finals season because that was when Barnard would host the "Dancing with DSpar" event! I never missed a semester, and dancing next to the College president never lost its novelty!
Amidst the exciting chaos of the 125th Anniversary Convocation, I remember being comforted by the powerful speech President Spar gave. She assured us we were in the right place at the right time, learning, creating, and thriving. As I pursue my master’s in public policy this fall, I will always thank Barnard College and President Spar for fostering a community that helped prepare us (Barnard women) to go into the world and make a difference.
There are so few individuals in this world whom we can truly call compassionate leaders; President Spar is one of them. To her I owe my fearless determination to conquer my wildest aspirations. Thank you for being an inspiration, a hero, a mentor, and a dear friend.
Nearly every one of my graduation pictures shows me with tears of joy, and hugging DSpar was an incredible moment. I am grateful I was blessed with such a wonderful role model during my time at Barnard. Thank you, President Spar; continue changing the world, boldly.
President Spar is affectionately called "D-Spar the Rockstar" by my class because she makes being a woman leader cool, and more importantly, tangible, as she leads with an incredible balance of gravitas and affability. Most presidents are brilliant, but not all are good; we were blessed with a woman leader who is both. Thank you, President Spar, for living up to your nickname.
Senior year I went to President Spar’s office hours and told her I was nervous about finding a sustainable career in the arts. Instead of telling me to find a more stable path, she encouraged and reminded me that I had the problem-solving skills to make my dreams happen. She was exactly what was needed in a Barnard President–a person who encourages young women to attain whatever future they want.
Rebecca Dorothy Cohen
Debora Spar is an icon for Barnard and a role model. On graduation day, she invited my parents and me to attend breakfast at her home prior to the ceremony. My mother liked Barnard so much she joined the Athena Leadership Council, and sponsored the Film Festival in the past. Thank you for all your hard work, vision, and charisma; my Barnard experience would not have been the same without you.
During my freshman year at Barnard, my roommate and I attended an event hosted by DSpar about women and our relationship to food. That evening my roommate and I talked about the event until the early morning. It was then clear to me what a gift it was to be around a college president who encouraged these conversations.
I never met DSpar personally, but I once spent hours working on a letter to her about a concern. I was shocked to find a personalized note from her the next day, addressing my issues one-by-one. In a world where raising one's voice is often met with silence, it was wonderful to know she was listening to the needs of the community. She exemplified everything that makes Barnard great.
President Spar knows how to command a room! At last year's L.A. Gala, she said hello to each guest with a personal connection. She is my inspiration to host, mentor, and lead with elegance, ease, and grace.
Eight years on and I'm still President Spar's #1 fan. I've even saved my Sparkler t-shirt!
When I had no money and wanted to study French theater with the CU School of the Arts graduate dramaturgy program, you met with me to discuss my options and found a donor who provided a scholarship to study in Paris. Seven years later as a professional playwright, I’m still influenced by the theater and production models I encountered abroad. Thank you for the gift of that invaluable experience.
Pei-ying (Jennifer) Lin
The first time I conversed with President Debora Spar was in a classroom of 15 people during my freshman year. She was a guest speaker and I distinctly remember how well she remembered everyone's names, referencing them back perfectly throughout our session as if she knew each of us personally. How amazing and personable is that? I wish her the best in her new endeavors!
Bo Yun Park
Dear President Spar,
I cannot find the words to express my gratitude but let me simply say that two words have stayed with me since I heard your inaugural keynote address during our first semester at Barnard: choose excellence. These two words have guided all of my decisions and endeavors ever since and will remain my motto.
On my first day at Barnard, I was nervous and excited to unload my things from my car into a chalk "box" on the sidewalk. President Spar walked up and down Broadway introducing herself to new students and their families. She instantly put me at ease when she told me she was both nervous and excited for her first day, too.
Katherine van Stolk-Cooke
I was at Barnard fewer than three months when I was asked to perform with women musicians at the inauguration of Barnard's incumbent president, Debora Spar. For nearly a decade, I played jazz trumpet in settings where I was the only female horn player, so that Barnard performance holds a very special place in my memory. I didn't speak to President Spar again until I was a senior, and she hosted me for a farewell dessert at her home. She has come to symbolize my opening and closing chapters at the College where I learned the importance of being strong, wise, and unapologetically unique.
I will never forget creating SUPERSPAR shirts with the 2011 class council–they were neon and had Debora's face right on the front! If those T-shirts couldn't scare her away, nothing could. Thank you, Debora for all you have done for women, for Barnard, and for me!
I once attended a lecture on Impostor Syndrome, the condition that leads people to believe they are frauds. I emailed my then-boss, President Spar (I was her research assistant), at the end of a particularly self-conscious day to say the presenter was speaking directly to me. Within minutes, President Spar responded, “You’re wonderful. Deal with it!” In five words, she gave me what I wanted and deserved. She believes fiercely in what we can accomplish, even when we aren’t so sure.
In my senior year, President Spar, who was new to Barnard that year, was holding office hours, and I decided to go meet her. There, she greeted me with a smiling and warm, encouraging demeanor. I told her my debut full-length play Three Spoons was being produced on campus and gave her the postcard for the production. One night I was greeted by a brunette and her silver-haired husband in casual jeans and clothes, congratulating me on the production–and I didn't recognize her. I was stunned that the President of the College took the time to attend my play, and I wish I had started college later to have had more time with her!
Chelsea White (Burger)
As co-chair of the Barnard Senior Fund, I was invited to President Spar’s apartment for dessert. Though we only overlapped my final year at Barnard, it was easy to connect with her. I know she will make us Barnard women proud!