Tag: Barnard

Photo Courtesy of ABC7 NY

As reported yesterday, Shelia Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American associate judge in New York, was found dead in the Hudson River. Abdus-Salaam was a graduate of Columbia, receiving her Bachelors from Barnard College in 1974 and JD from Columbia Law School in 1977.

Prior to joining the bench in New York, she worked as an attorney for Brooklyn Legal Services.

Current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who appointed Abdus-Salaam to the bench following a vacancy in 2013 posted the following about her passing.

For more information on her life, the New York Times has posted a thorough article on her life and this tragic event here.

Image courtesy of Barnard College

In a final email to the Barnard community, President Spar wished the student body goodbye and gave updates on diversity, divestment, and the contingency faculty union contract. The full email is below:

To All Members of the Barnard Community,

Today, I had the bittersweet task of presiding over my final meeting of the Barnard Board of Trustees. It has been a great honor to work with this deeply committed Board for the past nine years, and to have been part of a community that shares a love for, and devotion to, the cause of women’s education.  Never has this goal been more relevant or more important than it is today.

Since I announced my departure three months ago, I have had the opportunity, yet again, to observe the strength, resilience, and determination of the Barnard community.  Our students have shown a re-energized commitment to engage with the world around them, and to fight for the causes and ideals they hold dear.  Our faculty have been a source of wisdom and expertise, using their scholarship to unpack the complexities of our world, and to nudge it to a better and more generous place.  Across our community of staff and alumnae and parents, Barnard women have made their voices heard.  At Women’s Marches across the country, sporting the iconic pink hats that were the brainchild of Krista Suh, Barnard ’09.  At the Athena Film Festival, celebrating the work of pioneers like Regina Scully and Eve Ensler.  And, on our own campus, digging in to such critical issues as diversity, inclusion, divestment, and adjunct faculty wages.

It’s been a busy year.  At today’s Board meeting, the trustees unanimously approved a path-breaking recommendation from our Task Force to Examine Divestment that will put Barnard at the very forefront of organizations striving to have an impact on climate change and fossil fuel use.  Thanks in large part to student activists from Divest Barnard, and backed by crucial insights from faculty members and trustees, the Task Force proposed — and the Board accepted — a decision to divest Barnard’s endowment from those companies that deny climate change.

Working with outside experts such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, the College will now be able to use its endowment funds both symbolically and responsibly, setting a new standard for investment that seeks to balance the fiduciary need to manage our resources with the moral responsibility to harness science for sustainability. To read more about the Task Force’s work and recommendations, please visit: https://barnard.edu/vision-values/divestment-task-force.

At today’s meeting, the trustees also heard recommendations from the Presidential Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion and approved the College’s first contract with our newly-formed contingent faculty union, BCF-UAW.  Under the terms of the new contract, Barnard’s adjunct faculty will receive salaries and benefits, including health care, which will be among the most generous in the nation.  These provisions, settled over the course of a full year of negotiations, signify our ongoing commitment to all of the faculty who teach our students and serve as role models for them.  Meanwhile, the Board also gave its support to a wide-sweeping roster of measures designed to make our campus as diverse and inclusive as our community desires it to be.

Over the next few months, Interim President Rob Goldberg will put in place several of the Task Force’s most immediate recommendations, including the creation of a campus-wide Diversity Council and an annual report on diversity and inclusion to the Campus Life Committee of the Board of Trustees. Over the next few years, the Board and the Task Force will work with the College’s next president to implement the next tranche of recommendations.  For more on these steps, both interim and longer-term, please visit: https://barnard.edu/news/statement-president-spar-diversity-and-inclusion.

This work caps what has been, for me, a wonderful nine-year term at Barnard.   It has been a joy and a privilege to watch the College become both more diverse and more selective over this time, and to see the successive waves of classes — ever smarter, more curious, and more committed to building lives that matter.  It has been an honor to work with these young women, and to watch them forge their own paths into the future.  It has been thrilling to celebrate each ritual of passage — from move-in day to Commencement — with our students, and deeply moving to watch them support each other, and their Barnard community, during moments of stress or challenge.  I have been touched by so many members of this campus, and am grateful to each and every one of you for helping to make Barnard such a special place.

As I step through the gates of campus this evening, I am heartened to know that Barnard is in such a good and strong place.  Our endowment, for the first time in its history, has topped $300 million.  Our new Foundations curriculum is in place, and exciting.  Our new teaching and learning center — formally announced yesterday as The Milstein Center — is actively under construction, set to provide the next generations of Barnard students and faculty with the intellectual hub they desire and deserve.  And our interim president, Rob Goldberg, is fully primed to work with the Board and the senior staff to lead the College through the next few months, and then on to the service of whomever will be selected as Barnard’s eighth president.

I leave also, though, with a deep gratitude for what the College has given me, and allowed me to become.  It has been a privilege to serve an institution so deeply committed to women, to education, and to the liberal arts. It has been a joy to work with and among people who care so intently about the world they will inherit, and the legacy they leave behind.

As I venture now down Broadway, I will take and cherish all that Barnard has meant to me.  A voice for women.  A commitment to truth.  And a determination, always, to be bold.

Thank you for sharing this amazing place with me.

Sincerely,

Debora Spar

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Barnard College.

To celebrate DSpar’s time at Barnard as we prepare to say farewell to her, we look back at the advice and personal stories she imparted during our interview with her.

As many people know, you have a doctorate degree in government, but you are also in the board of directors of Goldman Sachs and also a college president. So, those are two positions not normally associated with government majors. So what inspired and led you to pursue such a different career path than the one you actually studied for?

Story of my life! Uhm, you know, nothing specific. I’m always saying to students, based on my own experience, I think people’s lives move in zigzags rather than linearly. I certainly know mine did. I wound up getting a PhD in government largely because I always had thought when I was younger that I was going to be a diplomat or a spy, but then I actually decided not to pursue those paths, so I stayed in academia, even though that wasn’t really what my original intent had been. I’ve just been lucky, and I think, at some level, innately curious. So when interesting things come along, even if they are somewhat peripheral to where I am at the moment, I’m always intrigued to take a look.

On the subject of research, one thing that I was really surprised to read about was that you’re one of the first people to start researching and writing about the economics of alternate fertility, which I thought was kind of surprising. I’m interested to hear a little bit about that. What struggles did you face in the beginning when you decided to research this topic? Have you ever considered teaching a class at Barnard about that topic?

So this is a very specific, not all that interesting, story. Before I did that research, I read a book called “Rolling Waves,” which was on cycles of technological discovery. The book was really initially about trying to understand how the internet was likely to play out politically. My research has always looked to the intersection between business and politics.

So, I was working on the internet space, but the argument I made wound up having everything to do with these cycles of discovery, and when I was giving lectures about that book, which was in 2001-2002, inevitably, I would always get the same question, which was “Okay, what’s the next great technology that’s going to set off another wave of market creation?” And for about a year, I didn’t have an answer to that question, and then I figured I probably needed to get one, so I started looking around. I became increasingly convinced that the next sector that was going to have innovation big enough that was going to create a market, was going to be biotech. So, I spent about a year or so doing research about the biotech sector. This was early 2000s now, and I came to see that biotech wasn’t quite there yet; arguably, it probably is now, but it’s now 12 years later. 2003, it wasn’t, but almost by accident, I kind of discovered the world of assisted reproduction, and I was fascinated by it.

I hadn’t known anything about it, I didn’t go through it myself, but two things struck me as soon as I kind of saw what was happening. The first one was this was just inherently interesting, that people had been making babies the same way for millions of years, and all of a sudden, they are making babies a different way. That’s just cool! The second thing– and at this point I had been in Harvard Business School for 15 years–was that this was the first business I ever encountered where nobody was acknowledging that they were in a business. So generally, when you talk to business people, they brag about their business: “I’m making lots of money. You know, we have great market share.” In the fertility industry and years in the industry, everybody goes out of their way to tell you that they are not in business. The reporter in me that said somebody has to tell this story, and that’s how I winded up doing it. And I don’t teach a class, I teach a little piece of a class. There is a class here on science and public policy, and I do the fertility piece of that. I wish I had the time to teach a class because I’d really like to.

Would you want to? Do you think that you can have a class on this?

Yeah! You know, I taught some things about it back at Harvard Business School. I’ve just decided I can do my job, and I can either write or teach, but I can’t do both. So, I’ve decided to just stick with the writing and just teach a little team, that’s for better or worse.

Photo Courtesy of Steven DeCanio.

Photo Courtesy of Steven DeCanio.

Okay, so now, going off that, in your most recent book, I believe, “Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection,” you addressed this idea that women still feel a pressure to strive for perfection and the problems resulting from that kind of thought. So, as president of an all-women’s college, how do you address what could be considered a vicious cycle of women trying to strive for this perfection among the student body here? And do you still feel like this challenge should be perfect, still?

Yeah, I think women in particular feel additional pressure to be perfect in lots and lots of different aspects of their lives. I see women today trying to be really successful in their careers, and at the same time, be wonderful wives, be wonderful mothers, be very sexy, look like models, be great athletes, and save the world. I think that pressure really winds up being a great obstacle for women because if your expectation is that you’re going to be perfect at everything, then by definition, you’re going to fail. And so I try to get that message out as best as I can without hitting my students over the head with it because I don’t see that as my role.

How have your experiences working at Goldman Sachs and Harvard Business School influenced your philosophy in leading Barnard, and how have those experiences impacted your development of The Athena Center for Leadership Studies?

Okay, I’m going to talk about HBS and not Goldman. You know, HBS is a complicated place, but it’s a well-run place, and I think I was very lucky to have spent such a large chunk of my career there and to have worked with older mentors who really went out of their way to give me a lot of experience. So, I worked for a dean who promoted me into a senior social dean position, pretty much right after I had tenure. And he was a great manager and a great dean, so I learned a lot from watching him. And of course, Barnard is a fundamentally different place from Harvard Business School, but managing a complicated enterprise is the same endeavor, regardless where it takes place, so I think I was lucky to be able to sort of watch management from a close place that doesn’t do everything right by every stretch of imagination, but it’s pretty well run: it has good policies, it’s transparent, people feel involved. So, that was a lucky thing for me.

What are some of your next long term goals for Barnard?

Well, we’re in an interesting moment right now because we’ve put a lot of initiatives. We completed the planning for a lot of initiatives last year, so we’re really in a sort of implementation moment right now. So, everything is ready for the new building, we just have to build it. We also spent lots of time last year thinking about transgender applications or transgender admissions, and now we have to figure out the fine details of that.

Photo Courtesy of Barnard College.

Photo Courtesy of Barnard College.

We wrote a strategic plan about 4-5 years ago, so no we’re implementing it. You know, I think in many ways, my greatest goal for Barnard is the one that the board laid out for me when I arrived, which was to elevate the college. Barnard is a wonderful place, it really is. But I see my role as being to make sure that anyone who might want to come here knows about the college, to make sure that if there is a smart young woman in Mississippi or Mumbai, Barnard is on her radar screen. So, we’re doing a lot to get the word out around Barnard. After that, it’s really to make Barnard the best Barnard it could possibly be, which I think means — we have a wonderful faculty, making sure that we retain that faculty, we have great students. We make sure we get exactly the students we want, and we do well by them. And then, as always, for any high rated institution these days, we have to make sure that we have the resources to do what we want to do, and that’s hard, but we’re getting there. I shouldn’t say we’re getting there, but we’ve had a lot of success in the past few years. Once people hear the Barnard story and understand it, they want to support it, so I just need to keep getting the word out.

So do you also plan to have more events? I think last year I remember seeing there was an event that happened for Barnard in Los Angeles. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Yes, it’s in the strategic plan which you can find on our website that we really want to expand the college’s reach and reputation. Part of that is doing Barnard events where there are interested Barnard people. We have the local symposium series now, so once a year we do a big event in another part of the world, which has been great for the college in many respects. We also experimented last year in LA, just having a fund raising gala in another part of the country, and it was terrific because the Barnard alumnae here in New York have a lot of opportunity to do Barnard things. The Barnard alumnae in LA don’t have that many opportunities, and they tend to be very devoted alumnae, and it’s just fun. People really had a good time at the gala, so we’re definitely going to repeat that. We’re doing more in the San Francisco Bay area, around Barnard in tech, building communities of our alumnae who are going into the tech fields. We’re really starting to look into some partnerships that will help us make sure that more young women stay in computer science, learn how to code, and those efforts probably will be entering in the Bay area.

Okay, that’s cool. So, it’s exciting to see Barnard expanding around the world.

Yeah, we’re getting there!

Kind of a vague question, but what advice would you give to women who are breaking into what is normally perceived as a male dominated field, like finance, government, or college presidencies?

That’s a good question. You know, I think the advice I’d give to young women is pretty much the same I’d give to any young person or any person. Anytime you’re going to be in a high-pressure environment, anytime you’re trying to make a way in a field–particularly if it’s a field that’s dominated by men or dominated by people who look different than you or dominated by people with different backgrounds–you got to be really good at what you do. I was on a panel last week with Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, and she was just describing how she’s constantly pushed into a corner and ignored. You could probably find it online because I don’t remember exactly what she said, and what she said was great. It was something like, “I just understood that I was going to be the best in the room, and at some point, they were going to have to come to me because I could do a better job than anyone else.” That’s a pretty good lesson to live by. So you don’t get by in anything by putting your hand up and saying, “Look at me, look at me, I’m the best.” Ultimately, success comes from actually being the best or being really good at what you do.

I like that. Okay, and then last question: what advice would you give to current students uncertain about what they want to do after college?

Don’t worry about it. I was supposed to be a spy; it didn’t work out. I have had a perfectly nice life. You know, life is going to throw you curve balls, so do not waste time in college worrying about what you’re going to do when you grow up. Most people I know my age don’t know what they’re going to do when they grow up, so take that off the worry buffet, as I say. You know, have a good time, learn stuff, have as many experiences as you can, and don’t spend too much time worrying about the next steps; they will happen.

I like it, it’s perfect. Thank you so much for sitting down with me. It’s just really exciting. I learnt a lot.

My pleasure!

 

In an email to the Barnard community earlier this morning, President Debora Spar announced that Barnard College and the Barnard Contingent Faculty-UAW have reached a tentative agreement. The full email is below:

Dear Barnard Community,

I am pleased to announce that Barnard College and the Barnard Contingent Faculty-UAW have reached a tentative agreement on a first contract that honors the contributions of our contingent faculty, offering generous increases in both wages and benefits, as well as greater job security. We will provide more details to the Community later today. I thank both of the negotiating teams for their time and effort over these many months, and congratulate them for reaching this important agreement.

Sincerely,

Debora Spar

Update 2/18/17, 3:46pm:

President Spar has sent another email to the Barnard community with an update on the terms of the union contract. The full text is as follows:

Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

Barnard is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the Barnard Contingent Faculty Union (BCF)-UAW that reflects our deep respect for the union members’ significant contribution to our community. In keeping with our core goals of bargaining respectfully and in good faith, celebrating the contributions of our contingent faculty, and preserving the integrity of our academic programs, we have reached an honorable agreement that that both negotiation teams can celebrate.

When formally ratified by the union, this agreement will push forward substantive changes in wages, benefits, and job security for adjunct faculty that recognize their commitment to our students:

  • Wages. We will boost the minimum wage for adjunct professors to $7,000 per three-point course and increase it to $10,000 over the next five years—a sizable wage increase in total for the majority of adjunct professors. Barnard’s per-course wages are now among the best in New York City, and among elite, urban colleges and universities nationally.
  • Healthcare. With our new healthcare agreement, Barnard is among the few colleges in the nation to offer access to healthcare to all its part-time adjuncts, as well as College-contributed subsidies to those teaching a specified number of courses.  Beginning in the first year of the new contract, adjunct faculty teaching half-time or more will be eligible for a College-subsidized plan at a rate equivalent to one-half of the subsidy provided to our full-time faculty. By the third year of the contract, and in the interest of providing a subsidized option to greater numbers of adjunct faculty, this same subsidy will apply to those faculty teaching one-third of a full-time course load or more.
  • Job Security. Barnard has addressed the union’s concerns around job security by providing multi-year appointments or severance pay to adjunct faculty with longer terms of service. This approach supports job security in a way that does not compromise our discretion in course selection and hiring, and that preserves the integrity of our academic program.

For further details about the contract, visit https://barnard.edu/hr/bcf-uaw-negotiations/contract.

We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support and input from different groups, including the assistance of federal mediation, in achieving a fair deal for BCF-UAW members. Barnard looks forward to building an even stronger partnership with our contingent faculty to the benefit of our students, the academic program, and the community that defines us.

Sincerely,

Debora Spar
President

 

 

In an email sent out yesterday, Provost Linda Bell welcomed Jennifer Green as the new Dean of the Barnard Library and Academic Information Services. You can read the full email below.

 

Dear Barnard Community,

I am delighted to announce that Jennifer Green will be joining Barnard as Dean of the Barnard Library and Academic Information Services (BLAIS), beginning on Monday, March 6th. Jen comes to the College after eleven years as a data librarian at the University of Michigan Libraries, where she was the Head of Science, Engineering, and the Clark Library for Maps, Government Information and Data, as well as the Director of Research Data Services. At Michigan, she spearheaded the creation of numerous services and spaces, including a library-wide research data service and institutional data repository, and the conception and implementation of the Clark Library, Michigan’s first new library in nearly two decades.

Prior to the University of Michigan, Jen served as Public Services Librarian at Grinnell College, where she brought her skill and ingenuity to several digital initiatives. She earned her M.L.I.S. from the University of Texas, Austin in 1995 and her B.A. in Art History from Trinity University, San Antonio in 1991.

Working closely with me, Jen will oversee the relocation of the Barnard library to our new teaching and learning center in Fall 2018. She will also build on the College’s relationships with faculty, students, alumnae, and colleagues at the Columbia University Libraries to promote innovation across disciplines. Jen will be working at the forefront of advancements in the acquisition, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge, and her technological experience and creativity will nourish both new and existing library resources.

I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to Alexis Seeley, who served as Interim Director of BLAIS during this transition. Alexis did an extraordinary job managing the library and IMATS, and I am proud to announce her promotion to a new position, Associate Dean of BLAIS and the Digital Commons, beginning March 6th. In this role, Alexis will build on her excellent work as Interim Director, during which she coordinated a multi-stage plan for relocation and deepened the quality of the library’s contributions to campus. Before serving as Interim Director, Alexis used her extensive knowledge of educational technology to transform and expand Barnard’s media services during her years as Associate Dean for Teaching Research and Technology and Manager of Instructional Media.

I know that Jen, along with Alexis, will lead the library into a new era of innovation and growth, and we will certainly benefit from their varied skills and collective years of experience. Of course, I would also like to thank the search committee, chaired by Peter Balsam, and the entire library staff. They were all instrumental in this successful transition.

Please join me in congratulating Alexis and welcoming Jen to Barnard.

My very best,
Provost Linda Bell