The Barbara Silver Horowitz ’55 Scholars of Distinction

The Barbara Silver Horowitz ’55 Scholars of Distinction Program, formerly known as The Barnard Centennial Scholars Program, was established in 1985 to help the College educate extraordinary young women bound for achievement. The Program provides a unique four-year scholarly experience in a cohort with other outstanding students. It offers participants access to research talks with acclaimed academic leaders, the close mentorship of renowned Barnard faculty members, and guaranteed funds to pursue academic research. Scholars are expected to develop a project related to a field of personal interest, and, in their senior year, to produce potentially publishable work that will be presented to faculty and peers.

  • Scholar cohort events begin in the student’s first-year, and continue throughout a Scholar’s four years on campus. Activities include discussion groups and special thematic lectures on campus and in New York City, as well as social gatherings.
  • Every Scholar selects a faculty mentor by the spring of her second year, and she will work closely with this mentor who will help her define and then plan her research project.  
  • Scholars receive up to two summers of funding in order to conduct research, either on campus (where students receive subsidized housing), or off campus, depending on the nature of the project.
  • During senior year, all Scholars participate in a for-credit seminar. In this setting, Scholars workshop their ideas, research methods, drafts, and presentations of their final project together with their peers, faculty, and occasional invited guests.
  • At the end of senior year, Scholars present their research at a Senior Symposium, a celebratory event that draws faculty, staff, and students from across the College.


The Scholars of Distinction Program is coordinated by dedicated faculty members, drawn from a variety of departments. The faculty members most directly involved in administering the program are:

  • Paige West, Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology,
  • Ellen Morris, Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient Studies



Scholars of Distinction are selected as first-year students during the admissions process. Prospective Scholars demonstrate advanced academic achievement and possess the intellectual focus and motivation necessary for creative, independent scholarship. The applicant's high school record, counselor and teacher recommendations, standardized test scores, personal statement, and other factors are considered by the selection committee. In order to ensure quality, maintain the academic vitality of the Program and address any issues that should arise, the Faculty Committee periodically reviews the academic performance of Scholars.

The Mentors 

In the spirit of the classical concept of the mentor as counselor and guide, a key component of the Scholars of Distinction Program is the collaboration between each Scholar and a faculty advisor. The mentor - chosen by the student in consultation with the Faculty Committee members - offers the Scholar intellectual and creative support and guidance in her independent work. Mentors typically supervise the Scholar's project from formulation to completion.


Past Barnard Centennial Scholars and their Research

Over 300 Barnard alumnae are proud to be counted among past Barnard Centennial Scholars. Each of these Scholars had a unique and specialized research experience with faculty, experiences that set the stage for their academic and other pursuits. Past Centennial Scholars have pursued diverse projects such as conducting environmental studies in Kenya, research on sustainable building and community development in Buffalo, producing a short animated film set in Kuala Lumpur, and composing and staging an original musical.  Not surprisingly, past Scholars include well-known professionals in fields as diverse as academia, law international development, human rights, activism, scientific research, writing and the arts.


Past projects have included:

  • Virtual Worlds: The Education Revolution
  • [Re]creating in her Path: How Two Women Imagined Wilderness in the Canadian Rockies
  • Revolutionary Poetry & the Poetry of Revolution: From Faiz to #OWS
  • Twits: Cyber Interventions in the Modern Day Love Story
  • Missing a Hand: A Reading from a Yiddish Play in Translation
  • Berlin Summer, New York Fall
  • Art of Not: Display, Content, and the Digital Image
  • Theorizing Justice: The Case of the International Criminal Court
  • A Philosophical Framework for Reading Finnegans Wake
  • Entering Snow Camp: Tracing a Family’s Quaker Origins
  • Left Behind: The Future of Small Town America