New Developments at Barnard: Spring 2012

By Samantha Plotner

Every semester Barnard Communications hosts a breakfast meeting between a selection of campus administrators and campus journalists to answer questions about developments at Barnard. President Debora Spar, Chief Operating Officer Gregory Brown, Vice President for Development Bret Silver, and Dean of the College Avis Hinkson were all present. Here is a quick summary of what you should know.

The result of the previous capital campaign

Capital Campaign

A capital campaign is when a not-for-profit (typically colleges) goes through an intense period of fundraising. At Barnard, the last campaign was to finance the construction of the Diana Center and had a fundraising goal in the eight figures. This campaign will be focusing on the endowment and space needs. With a goal around nine figures, it will be the largest capital campaign the college has ever undertaken and will last for the next five years. VPD Silver emphasized how the College is trying to reach out across the board to current students, alumna (both recent and not so recent), parents of students and alumna, and family members of alumna (such as sons of mothers who went to Barnard).

The college’s annual Scholarship Gala at the Plaza Hotel will be happening on April 24th. This year to attract younger alumna there will be a “Gala Nights” dance party, also at the Plaza. Unlike the main Gala, where buying a table can cost several thousand dollars, tickets to Gala Nights will cost $150. The proceeds from Gala Nights will also be going towards scholarship students. President Spar also mentioned that a trustee has generously donated the money to cover the costs of hosting the event, so every cent from both tickets and the auction will go towards student scholarships.

Money and Budget 

COO Brown made a quick mention of the Financial Advisory Council, a group of five students that he will meet with regularly about spending decisions. “There shouldn’t be any secrets about our money,” he said. The Council will allow more consistent student feedback, as opposed to presenting SGA with specific inquires, as done previously. “The college’s budget is tight; it’s always tight,” Brown noted. Part of this stems from the size of Barnard’s endowment ($200 million) which spins off $9 million towards Barnard’s $160 million annual budget. The goal is to have the money from the endowment be a larger percentage of the budget (which is why the capital campaign will have a big push towards endowment donations). For comparison, Smith College has an endowment of $1.5 billion.

As for other budgetary considerations, Brown said he is “very sensitive to not raising tuition very much.” He said there will be “community-wide conversations” about reprioritizing funding. Brown’s office will also be looking at streamlining administrative functions to make them more efficient and less clunky. He pointed out that if your bill from the bursar’s office looks like it is from the 1980s, it is because the system is from the 1980s.

New Construction?

People on campus (students included) have been murmuring about the fate of Lehman Hall since the administration mentioned an imminent construction project last semester. Seven architecture firms submitted proposals to the College this past Thursday for each of three possibilities.

1) Repurposing existing space
In this possibility there would be renovations in Barnard Hall, Lehman Hall and/or Milbank Hall. The point would be to renovate but nothing would get knocked down.

2) Adding to Lehman Hall
The foundation of Lehman is strong, and could support up to three additional stories (which would make the building a total of seven stories high). This scenario also includes a full-scale gutting of Lehman’s interior, but again, the building would not come down entirely, like Macintosh (the Diana Center’s predecessor).

3) Demolishing Lehman Hall and/or Barnard Annex

Will Lehman be knocked down?

Barnard Annex, as COO Brown pointed out, is the only non-wheelchair accessible building on campus and that Lehman “may be a lovely library for 1959.” President Spar said that renovating or demolishing Lehman gives Barnard the opportunity to answer the question: “What does a 21st century library look like?”

Currently Lehman houses the library, offices for the Political Science, History and Economics departments, and the Barnard archives. Space planners and architects will have to be mindful of where to relocate those things during a renovation. Borrowing space from neighboring institutions and leasing space in the Interchurch Center (the office building next to Elliott) are possibilities. At some point in the next six months, the College will decide which firm and which scenario will happen.


Dean Hinkson proudly announced that Barnard is still the country’s most selective women’s college. She also brought with her a slew of statistics about applications this year. One particular highlight is the fact in the last two years there has been a 42% increase in early decision applications. Hinkson also mentioned that admissions would take into account last year’s increase in yield (admitted students who enroll).

Samantha is a junior at Barnard College and Editor-in-Chief of The Nine Ways of Knowing


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