Starting July 1, term assistant professor Alex Pittman will assume a new role at Barnard as The Norman E. Alexander Family G Foundation, Gail A. Binderman ’62, president, Associate Director of the Center for Engaged Pedagogy. In this newly created position, generously sponsored by the Norman E. Alexander G Foundation, Gail Binderman '62, president, Pittman will support faculty and staff with workshops and one-on-one conversations to ensure that Barnard community members can hold meaningful, productive dialogues about the complex issues facing our world today.
“This new position will reinforce Barnard’s reputation as an educational institution of the highest caliber, ensuring not only that our faculty are experts in their disciplines, but that they have the tools needed to confront complex issues and different viewpoints in the classroom, while upholding the institutional principle that privileges the free and open exchange of ideas,” said Provost Linda Bell.
Pittman joined Barnard in 2015 as a term assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. Since July 2020, he has served as assistant director for teaching and learning initiatives at the Center for Engaged Pedagogy (CEP) and as a term assistant professor of critical interdisciplinary studies. At the CEP, he develops and supports projects that address questions of power, hierarchy, and labor in classrooms and institutions of higher education. His research and teaching interests include Black diasporic performing, visual, and literary arts since 1945, feminist and queer approaches to political economy, and critical theory.
“I couldn’t be more excited to step into this role,” said Pittman. “It’s very common to read in the mainstream press today about how anti-racism is a recent phenomenon on college campuses, but I know that this isn’t the whole story. Throughout my time at Barnard, students have pushed for significant changes to the ways we come together to practice anti-racism in the classroom and beyond in a period of enduring and intensifying crises. It’s an honor to contribute to that work and a pleasure to do so with my colleagues at the CEP, all of whom I think are true visionaries when it comes to social justice education.”
Over the next five years, Pittman will work within the CEP as he oversees the training of faculty and staff to better prepare them to address students’ concerns and facilitate productive conversations about sensitive issues. This will include meeting one-on-one with faculty to develop strategies for teaching difficult topics, as well as coordinating and moderating regular conversations that focus on current topics affecting the Barnard community.
The search and interview committee included key stakeholders from across campus, including Jennifer Rosales, executive director of the CEP; Brian Cohen, the Lavine Family Executive Director of Columbia/Barnard Hillel; and Ariana González Stokas, Barnard’s former vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. (González Stokas will rejoin Barnard as a consultant on August 30.)
“This position supports the continuation and strengthening of the CEP’s work with students and faculty on cultivating engaged classroom communities built on active listening and diverse points of view,” said Rosales. “The creation of this role emphasizes the value and centrality of facilitation and intergroup dialogue to the teaching and learning community at Barnard. Alex’s commitment to anti-racist and anti-oppressive scholarship and pedagogy, as well as his extensive experience teaching in the Barnard classroom — honored by his reception of the 2020 Barnard Teaching Excellence Award — uniquely positions him to take on this new role. The whole CEP team is excited to continue working with Alex.”
With this named position, Binderman continues her generous and steadfast support of the Barnard community. She has previously served as a member of the President’s Advisory Council, a member of the Alumnae Association of Barnard College, and as fund chair and class president for the Class of 1962. Binderman was awarded Columbia/Barnard Hillel’s Gershom Mendes Seixas Award in 2019 in recognition of her support of Jewish life on campus.