Dear Members of the Barnard Community,
To all members of the Barnard community—whether you will be joining us in person or remotely—welcome to the Spring Semester. Barnard is, at its heart, a community of students and scholars. We all benefit from the intellectual sparks that fly when we come together, the ideas and questions that we trade, and our shared pursuit of knowledge. While this community persevered and progressed through a semester-and-a-half of achieving that remotely, we celebrate each step we can take toward restoring the full vitality of our campus life.
Of course, we are only part way down this road. Not all of us can be here in person this semester. Those who are here will find a much different experience than what we left behind last spring. Until wide-spread vaccination beats back the pandemic, we will still have to take extraordinary measures to thrive as a community, remotely and in person. For those of us working, studying, or living on or near campus, we bear a special responsibility to keep one another and the greater Morningside Heights and Harlem community safe by diligently following the health protocols and guidelines we have established. And we will have to be flexible as the pandemic and the societal response to it continue to change.
I have confidence that Barnard will flourish this spring. Through more than 13,000 tests we administered during the fall, we learned a great deal about reducing transmission by early detection and tracing of the virus and, of course, the importance of social distancing, mask wearing, and hand hygiene. This spring we have established an even more rigorous protocol that will require every student accessing campus to be tested twice a week. That testing, along with contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine, will be managed by our Pandemic Response Team, experts assembled to carry out this important element of our layered strategy for health.
Encouraged as I am by the planning and logistics in place to keep us healthy, I am also inspired by the knowledge that, during such a difficult time for our country and the world, Barnard graduates are having an impact in almost every sector of work and graduate learning.
Each year, Beyond Barnard tracks employment and graduate school outcomes for the most recent graduating class. Amid the the most challenging macroeconomic conditions since the Great Recession, we found 89% of graduates in the Class of 2020 were employed or enrolled in graduate school, six months after graduation. Across the last three years, the average six-month placement rate is 90%. We are always proud of our graduates, but the durability of their success in the face of 2020's distinctive challenges is truly remarkable.
As I have noted before, the profound questions that challenge us as a society—disease, economic inequality, racial bias, the future of democracy, and more—are best addressed with the tools of the arts and sciences. At Barnard, we continue to rise to the occasion through research, curriculum, programming, and our graduates, who go out and face these challenges directly and deeply.
I wish you all the best as you enter a new semester of purpose and possibility, and I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
Sian Leah Beilock, President