Sian Leah Beilock, executive vice provost of the University of Chicago, will become the 8th president of Barnard College, effective July 1, 2017. An expert on how children and adults learn and perform at their best, especially under stress, Beilock has been a member of the Chicago faculty since 2005. She currently is the Stella M. Rowley Professor in the Department of Psychology, the Committee on Education and the College.

“Sian Beilock is a researcher and teacher who has spent her career developing psychological tools to help students perform up to their potential,” said Jolyne Caruso-Fitzgerald, chair of Barnard’s Board of Trustees. “Her insights into how students clear psychological and social hurdles to achievement have provided valuable lessons for educators across disciplines. Her keen intellect, her empathic concern for student success, and her experience bridging liberal arts disciplines within an urban context make her uniquely qualified to lead Barnard. Her broad administrative, curricular and co-curricular responsibilities at the University of Chicago, her energy, and her ambitious approach to institutional advancement will help us further the unique mission of the College.”

As executive vice provost and an officer of the University of Chicago, Beilock has a large portfolio aimed at advancing the University’s research and education mission. In 2015, Beilock created and launched UChicagoGRAD, a university-wide office and initiative designed to ensure that Chicago’s 9,000-plus graduate students and postdocs develop the necessary skills—from writing and communication to advanced pedagogy—to be leaders in academia, government, industry and the nonprofit sector. She also oversees the University of Chicago’s integrative efforts to bridge urban scholarship, practice and engagement via meaningful collaborations and innovative programming with Chicago’s Southside neighborhoods and cities around the world. Beilock is also responsible for major academic centers ranging from the university libraries to the University of Chicago Press, academic space planning and allocation, and the development and implementation of several major building projects. 

In her research, Beilock has focused specifically on girls’ and women’s success in math and science and how performance anxiety can either be exacerbated or alleviated by teachers, parents and peers. She works to understand the brain and body factors that influence learning and performance and how simple psychological strategies can be used to ensure success, from test taking to public speaking to athletics. Beilock has authored two books, the critically acclaimed Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To (2010) and How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel (2015), and more than 100 publications. She has received funding from the National Science Foundation (including a CAREER award), the Department of Education, and several foundations. She works extensively with educators and those involved in public policy, including serving on a National Research Council committee on decision-making and stress.

“Having spent my career investigating how people can perform at their best, I am thrilled at the prospect of leading a college focused on ensuring women have the tools to succeed in any path they choose,” Beilock said. “Barnard’s unique status as a leading liberal arts college associated with a major research university and its unparalleled urban setting provide important opportunities for supporting high-powered young women to reach their potential and for emphasizing the benefits of a diversity of viewpoints in leadership roles. And there could be no more timely moment to highlight the importance to society of women's intellectual leadership.”

Beilock recently won the 2017 Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, she is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Kinesiology, and received early career awards from the Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Foundation, the Psychonomic Society, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists. She received a Bachelor of Science in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego, and doctorates of philosophy in both kinesiology and psychology from Michigan State University.

Founded in 1889, Barnard was the only college in New York City, and one of the few in the nation, where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, as the world-renowned liberal arts college for women at Columbia University, Barnard remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional. For more information on Barnard College, contact Media Relations at 212-854-2037 or mediarelations@barnard.edu.



News of Beilock's appointment was featured first as an exclusive in The New York Times, and later ran in The Wall Street JournalThe Chronicle of Higher EducationPoliticoCrain's New York BusinessFortune, and more.