Dear members of the Barnard community, 

Welcome back to campus, after what I hope was a peaceful and restorative winter break. The start of the new year is a time of reflection. As I enter my final semester at Barnard, I am filled with gratitude for this amazing community and excitement about all that lies ahead for us between now and Commencement.

Looking back over the past six years, I’m so proud of what we have accomplished together — increasing Barnard’s eminence in the sciences to match its renown in the arts and humanities, prioritizing health and wellness, creating Beyond Barnard, raising record funds for financial aid to ensure that Barnard is accessible to students with varied lived experiences and backgrounds, and so much more. I know that Barnard — and its exceptional community — will only continue to thrive. 

I’m thrilled that we stand at the precipice of one of the major projects that will transform the Barnard experience. Construction is underway for the Francine A. LeFrak Center for Well-Being, with a phased opening of its new state-of-the-art physical, mental, and financial health spaces to come in fall 2023 and winter 2024. In the meantime, I encourage you to keep an eye out for well-being programming throughout the semester, led by Dr. Marina Catallozzi, Vice President of Health & Wellness and Chief Health Officer, and her phenomenal team with the aim of helping you flourish at Barnard and beyond. 

As you head to class, you may encounter some of the youngest members of our community. This semester, after 50 years at Barnard, the Center for Toddler Development moves to its brand-new space, on the ground floor of Milbank Hall, designed to support toddlers’ growth and exploration. This modern facility will allow our early childhood and developmental psychologists to expand their leading research on language learning, numerical understanding, parenting, and more. And, importantly, the new space will enhance the educational experiences, research assistantships, and internships available to undergraduates through the Center. 

Our students, faculty, and staff are growing and exploring as well. We are ramping up opportunities for professionals interested in strengthening their skills and becoming effective leaders — expanded career pathways, leadership programs for department chairs and cohorts of staff managers, and Barnard Pro Tip, when faculty and staff convene to share enriching insights and inspiration on topics in which they have expertise. For students, the Athena Center for Leadership — in addition to expanding its SPARK event series and communities of practice — launched its inaugural Intrapreneurial Leadership Fellows Program, through which Barnard students and women veterans and service members in Columbia’s School of General Studies develop and practice skills that will help them drive change from within our most important, established institutions. 

And it’s always inspiring to see our alums achieve their goals and make an impact on the world after Barnard. Across the past five years and including the Class of 2022, more than 90% of graduates were placed in a job or enrolled in graduate school just six months after graduation. From its inception, one of the distinctive aspects of Beyond Barnard has been its charge to work with our faculty and support our mission of academic excellence. This spring, Beyond Barnard will host a Career Insights panel with the Urban Studies Program and partner with the History and Neuroscience & Behavior departments to showcase the range of career paths open to their majors. Additionally, more than 150 students will serve as preceptors this year, supporting faculty in their teaching while also benefiting from their guidance and mentorship. 

I’m excited to announce a few key staffing updates as well. First, Mignon Moore, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Sociology, has been named Special Advisor to the President and will be joining the President’s Advisory Group. Serving in this new role through June 2024, Professor Moore will advise me and my successor, help facilitate the presidential transition, and assist in special projects with a strategic focus on faculty connections, including community engagement, faculty leadership and development, health and wellness, and summer academic programs. 

I’d also like to extend a warm welcome to Katie Hyon, our new Executive Director of Access Barnard, and Dr. Sarah Ann Anderson-Burnett, our new Primary Care Health Services Director of Medical Services and Quality Improvement. You will be hearing more from Dr. Catallozzi about updates in the health services area soon. 

And finally, one of my personal priorities during my final semester at the College is to continue to engage with you in scholarship and learning, and I hope that you will join me at these upcoming programs. On January 31, Jennifer Rosales, Vice President for Inclusion & Engaged Learning and Chief Diversity Officer, will moderate a panel of experts unpacking and contextualizing anti-Blackness and antisemitism in popular discourse. And on February 9, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Sloate Media Center, and the Africana Studies Department will host a screening of a new documentary about Zora Neale Hurston ’28, followed by a Q&A with Monica Miller, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of English and Africana Studies. I encourage you to visit the Barnard Events page to learn more about these and other exciting events over the coming months. 

As I reflect on my six years at Barnard, I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to get to know and learn from you, our extraordinary community of students, alumnae, faculty, and staff. I am deeply grateful to be a part of the Barnard family, and I wish all of you the best for the semester ahead. 

Most sincerely, 
Sian Leah Beilock