Another year is coming to a close, and, as always, Barnard has been a hub of activity. Here are some of the moments that made 2017 memorable.
1. Ladies in Lights – February 9-12
The seventh annual Athena Film Festival hosted a record number of film lovers for a weekend of empowering movies and talks. A town hall-style meeting about activism and community-building before the closing film paid tribute to the film’s subject, labor activist Dolores Huerta, and featured a panel comprised of Women’s March organizers, activist Gloria Steinem, and Huerta herself.
2. A First Contract – February 16
As part of Barnard’s commitment to hiring and retaining academically excellent faculty, an agreement on a first contract was made with Barnard’s contingent faculty members on terms including wages, healthcare, and job security. Barnard’s per-course wages are now among the best in New York City and elite urban institutions nationally, and the College is now among the first academic institutions to offer healthcare to all adjuncts.
3. Debora Spar Shapes Her Legacy – March 4
After announcing her departure in November 2016, President Spar focused her remaining time on three of her signature projects. Chief Operating Officer and Interim President Rob Goldberg shepherded these ongoing efforts until President Beilock’s arrival in July.
- Divestment: More than a year of research and community discussion culminated in the Board of Trustees’ vote to divest from fossil fuel companies and other organizations that deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change, as well as to implement a plan for the College to further reduce its carbon footprint and become more sustainable.
- Diversity: In order to ensure a more representative, inclusive, and equitable campus, the Presidential Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion released several recommendations that address the needs of students of color, first-generation and low-income students, and students who are refugees or have protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, among others.
- Development: For the first time in Barnard’s history, the College’s endowment has grown to more than $300 million, thanks to the ongoing Bold Standard capital campaign. The funds will be used to provide financial aid for applicants and to fund endowed faculty chairs and research. Additionally, the new building currently under construction on campus was announced in March as The Cheryl and Philip Milstein Teaching and Learning Center.
4. A Milstein Milestone – April 12
The year 2017 brought big changes to Barnard’s campus as The Milstein Center began to rise from its foundations. After several months spent watching its superstructure come into being (and keeping an eye on the crane!), the community gathered to celebrate the end of the steel construction phase and sign a steel beam, which was installed at the top of the Milstein Center, mirroring the foundational beam signed in 2016.
5. A Gala Surprise – May 2
At the annual Gala, where Roy and Diana (’55) Vagelos were given the Frederick A.P. Barnard Award in honor of the couple’s decades of service and philanthropy, Dr. Vagelos stunned the crowd—including his wife—with the largest single endowed gift to financial aid in the College’s history. The $10 million gift, which brought the total amount raised that evening to over $13 million, will be part of Barnard’s continued commitment to need-blind admissions and helping students and families afford a high-caliber education.
6. Brilliantly Imperfect – May 17
More than 4,000 proud friends, family, and community members gathered at Radio City Music Hall to honor our 614 exceptional graduates. Dr. Joanne Liu, the international president of Doctors Without Borders and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Montreal, offered powerful advice and personal anecdotes about accepting life’s unpredictability and springing into a “brilliantly imperfect” post-graduate life. View a slideshow of memories from Commencement 2017.
7. Reconnections and Retellings – June 1-4
More than 1,500 alumnae gathered on campus for Reunion. Some heard mini-lectures from Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence Jennifer Finney Boylan and Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) Director Tina Campt, and participated in Professor Mark Carnes’ renowned Reacting to the Past games. Alumnae also shared stories of social justice work and activism, as well as—in an annual tradition cohosted by The Moth—personal stories about Barnard’s impact on their lives.
8. A New Leader for a New Era – July 1
Dr. Sian Beilock was announced as Barnard’s eighth president in May and arrived on campus two months before welcoming the Class of 2021 on move-in day. A cognitive scientist who studies how children and adults perform at their best, especially in times of stress, President Beilock is interested in girls’ and women’s success in math and science and how performance anxiety can be exacerbated or alleviated by teachers, parents, and peers—research she pioneered while at the University of Chicago, where she served as the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology and Executive Vice Provost. President Beilock is the author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To and How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel.
President Beilock embarked on a listening tour to get to know faculty, staff, students, and alumnae. She has also given a variety of media interviews about her expertise as well as her new life as a college president.
9. “To Wander Determined” Toward Barnard – September 28
Visual artist Toyin Ojih Odutola was named the second Lida A. Orzeck ’68 Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, shortly before her first solo exhibition, “To Wander Determined,” opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Just as previous Artist-in-Residence Wendy Whelan lent her wealth of knowledge about the dance world to campus, Orzeck, who endowed the fund in order to bring distinguished voices to Barnard and expose students to world-class talent, shared her excitement about Ojih Odutola’s unique perspective on the visual arts. The Nigerian-born artist is known for her pen-and-ink sketches that explore the concept of race, and both the Whitney exhibit and her book The Treatment, which features her sketches in addition to an extensive interview with famed poet Claudia Rankine, will be featured in events and appearances throughout the school year.
10. Extraordinary Events – all year!
This year, several Barnard events focused on progressive action and community-building. Krista Suh ’09 returned to campus to talk about her Pussyhat Project, which rose to prominence when hundreds of thousands of protesters donned pink knit hats at Women’s Marches around the world. BCRW welcomed Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza, who spoke about the importance of solidarity, and poets Claudia Rankine and Dionne Brand, who discussed the power of language and poetry in troubling times.
Not all events were political; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri ’89 read one of her short stories and spoke with fellow Pulitzer winner Professor Hisham Matar about her career and common themes in her writing. And our popular From The Faculty Lounge series debuted, bringing together Barnard professors from varying disciplines to discuss the intersections of their research.