A lot of memories were forged this year in Morningside Heights. Here are some of the exciting events, arrivals, and one surprising goodbye that made 2022 unforgettable for the Barnard community.

A New Way To Watch Women-Centered Films (March 10)

Athena Audience

Filmmakers and moviegoers had reason to celebrate when Barnard kicked off the 12th annual Athena Film Festival. Co-founded by Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership and Women and Hollywood, this year’s 10-day festival delivered women-centered, feature-length films, shorts, and panels in an all-new hybrid format. “COVID has forever changed how we, as viewers, interact with content — and with each other — and Athena’s hybrid format is our way of moving forward in this new landscape,” said Umbreen Bhatti ’00, Constance Hess Williams ’66 Director of the Athena Center. Over the course of the three-day festival, 35 films were shown, including The Janes, Master, and a 20th anniversary showing of Real Women Have Curves.

A Stellar STEM Gift (March 11)

vagelos close up

Barnard became the recipient of a $55 million gift from Diana T. Vagelos ’55 and Dr. P. Roy Vagelos to fund the renovation and expansion of Altschul Hall, the building that houses the College’s principal science facilities. The building will be renamed the Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Center and will further elevate Barnard as a leader in preparing young women for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. “We are incredibly grateful to Diana and Roy,” said President Sian Leah Beilock about the gift, which is more than double the size of any previous single donation in the College’s history.

Jhumpa Lahiri Returns to Campus (April 11)

Beilock and Lahiri.

Three decades after acclaimed author Jhumpa Lahiri ’89 (above, right) was a student here, Barnard announced that she would be joining the faculty as the Millicent C. McIntosh Professor of English and director of creative writing. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author will also hold an affiliated status in the Comparative Literature and Translation Studies Department and in the Department of Italian. Lahiri, whose 2015 memoir In Other Words was written in Italian, will be a senior fellow at Columbia’s Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America.

In Celebration of Science and Giving Back (April 25)

The Barnard community headed to the Upper West Side for the 2022 Annual Gala, held at the American Museum of Natural History under the giant whale in the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life. The event honored all Barnard alumnae and current faculty who are members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. There were nearly 600 attendees, the largest Gala audience ever. Co-chaired by Barnard Trustees Karlie Kloss and Caroline Bliss Spencer ’09, the Gala raised nearly $2.6 million in student financial aid.

Commencement 2022 (May 18)

More than 6,000 audience members cheered, cried, and celebrated with the Barnard Class of 2022 at Radio City Music Hall for the College’s 130th Commencement. Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the 2016 New York Times bestseller Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, delivered the keynote address for the nearly 700 new graduates. “The time has come for you to write yourself into the future: of science, of mathematics, of history, of the arts, of statecraft, of whatever it is that is inside of you, and moves you, and will not be suppressed. Never allow the absences and silences to hold you back,” she told the graduates.

When in Bloom (July 6)


The College community welcomed back an old friend when Barnard’s titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) bloomed at the Arthur Ross Greenhouse. The plant, which is native to Sumatra and infamous for the powerful odor it releases when flowering, comes from a specimen that was initiated at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It arrived on Barnard’s campus dormant, and the size of a potato, in the early 2010s. This year, two years after its first bloom, it reached more than 6 feet tall. The Barnard community affectionately calls this specimen “Berani” — derived from the Indonesian words pemberani and berani, which are translated as “brave, bold, unafraid.”
A Big Goodbye (July 21)

Beilock podium Convocation 2021.jpg

After six years at Barnard, President Sian Leah Beilock announced that she would step down in 2023 to become president of Dartmouth. During her time as president, which included the difficult days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beilock championed new initiatives in STEM education, mental health and well-being, inclusion, and student success. She also showed tremendous programming support for students and alumnae post-graduation. “Every day you teach me indelible lessons, through the quality of your inquiry, your teaching, your research, and your scholarship,” Beilock wrote in an email to Barnard students, faculty, staff, and alumnae. “On a more profound level, you have shown me what a community can be and can achieve.”

A Year of Scientific Wonders (July 21)

year of science illustration

The Barnard Year of Science (BYOS), a celebration of all things STEM, ended after an academic year in which students and leading figures in STEM came together for a range of programs and events. Each month was dedicated to a different discipline — from psychology to computer science to the interdisciplinaries — with an emphasis on showing the connection between art and science.

A Night of Literary Greatness (October 12)

annie ernaux book signing

The College welcomed Annie Ernaux, the 2022 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, to campus to discuss her latest work, Getting Lost. The event — An Evening With Annie Ernaux: In Conversation With Hari Kunzru — was presented by the Barnard English Department’s Creative Writing Program and was co-sponsored by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, Barnard’s French Department, and Columbia’s Creative Writing, English, and French departments. Ernaux, whose work is deeply personal, said, through her translator, “[I write my] life and [live my] book. Another way to look at it is through the lens of the mixture, the combination of life and writing, but also the absolute necessity of a life of writing, which is to pursue what is not accomplished in life. The text reaches a reality that cannot be accessed through living.”

A Feast of a Good Time (November 10)

A decade-long tradition, the Barnard Big Sub returned after taking a pandemic break. The culinary celebration, hosted by the McIntosh Activities Council, brought students together, from the Quad to Milbank, to eat a 750-foot-long chain of sandwiches. The submarine — which stretched the length of 2.5 football fields — was created in Barnard’s kitchen by the College’s dining service. This year included a newly added tuna-salad section (President Beilock’s favorite) and 250 pounds of tomatoes.