FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2016—Barnard College President Debora L. Spar announced today that she will resign in March of 2017, after almost nine years leading the college, to become president and chief executive officer of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald ’81, chair of the Barnard Board of Trustees, said, “Debora Spar, quite simply, has transformed and elevated Barnard over these past nine years, building on its distinctive strengths, fortifying the College’s financial position, and pioneering important new initiatives in areas ranging from women’s leadership, technology and the arts to internationalization and campus life, while also providing national leadership on a broad range of issues.”
“Lincoln Center is fortunate to have attracted such an innovative, forward-thinking leader,” she added. “While we will miss Debora when she departs next year, I’m confident that she has left behind an institution that is as strong and well positioned for the future as it has ever been.”
In an email letter to the college community, Spar noted the difficulty of her decision. “These are strange times to be embarking on such a big move,” Spar wrote. “Over the past few days, I have been more impressed than ever by the importance of Barnard’s mission and the depth of this community’s commitment to women’s education, women’s empowerment, and social justice for all. I have been deeply moved to hear our students’ concern for the world they are inheriting, and their determination to harness their energies to make it a better place.”
Spar was the Spangler Family Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development at Harvard Business School when the Board of Trustees elected her the seventh president of Barnard College in 2008. She succeeded President Judith Shapiro, who stepped down after leading Barnard for 14 years.
During Spar’s tenure, Barnard has strengthened its resources and raised its profile in an increasingly global and digital world. Barnard’s endowment has almost doubled, growing from $162M in 2008 to approximately $300M in June of this year, and The Bold Standard, the largest capital campaign in the School’s history, is on track to reach its ambitious goal. As part of the campaign, Spar raised funds for 22 named faculty chairs, and $100M for a modern and much-needed teaching and learning center, slated to open in August 2018.
Applications for admission to Barnard have increased by over 50 percent and Barnard’s acceptance rate has plummeted from almost 30 percent to 16 percent in the same time period. This dramatically increased interest in and demand for Barnard has resulted in a more diverse student body: under Spar, the percentage of students of color has increased from one-third to one-half of the student body and the percentage of international students has more than doubled. Throughout, Barnard has remained steadfast in its commitment to need-blind admissions, even after the devastating economic downturn of 2008.
Spar established and championed a number of curricular and co-curricular initiatives, many of which crucially recognized Barnard’s greatest asset–New York City. The entering Class of 2020 is