Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

I am delighted to welcome all of you — new students, returning students, faculty, staff — to a new year at Barnard. Like few others, the last year has reminded us of what a privilege it is to come together, surrounded by an extraordinarily caring community and inspired by academic excellence, everywhere we look.

We see that excellence, of course, in teaching and learning and in research, art and scholarship. But the full measure of Barnard’s distinction emerges through our life together, with a vast diversity of thought and experience, and mutual support in cultivating lives that are full and healthy. These create the foundation for all of our work, inside and outside the classroom.

That is why we are acutely focused on fostering health and wellness in all its aspects: physical, mental, emotional, even financial. We are committed to that as an institution — most recently with the appointment of Marina Catallozzi, M.D., MSCE, as Barnard’s first Vice President of Health and Wellness and Chief Health Officer. Dr. Catallozzi will oversee Primary Care Health Service (PCHS), The Rosemary Furman Counseling Center and the new the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being, which will provide a centralized hub for our many Feel Well, Do Well @ Barnard initiatives. As we go through this year together, I ask that each of us take the time to reach out to one another, to check in, to ask how a fellow student or colleague is doing.

This year we are still addressing and adapting to the strains the COVID-19 pandemic has posed. We also continue to reflect on and critically engage with other ways the last year and a half have hurt and challenged us as a society, as we witness and grapple with racism and acts of violence against Asian Americans, anti-Black and Brown, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitism, and other forms of identity-based oppression. This type of hate is, unfortunately, not new to us as a society, but demands our renewed focus, care, and action. Later this month you will hear from our new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Cabinet about our continuing efforts to dismantle racism and oppression in all its forms, while fostering community, dialogue and opportunities for change. We will also update you on our search for our next Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We have made important strides in this work, across every part of campus, and I am eager to build on that momentum together.

I look forward to celebrating the start of the academic year with our 2021 Convocation on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 4:30 p.m., where we will welcome the new members of the student body to Barnard’s rich academic tradition. The keynote address will be delivered by Columbia University Professor of Psychology Nim Tottenham ’96, whose research focuses on human brain development, with an emphasis on the effects of early-life stress on its development. All members of the Barnard community are invited to an outdoor celebration after the ceremony. 

For now, I just want to take a moment to note what is possible when we come together. The Barnard community is truly singular and, over the last year and a half, we have shown how we take care of one another. I remain deeply grateful to be a part of this community, and I wish you all the best in the semester to come.

With appreciation,

Sian Leah Beilock