Bold History, Fearless Future

Barnard has boldness in its DNA. From our founding in 1889, we have been unafraid to question what it means to be educated and what the future holds for women. 

Yet to meet the challenges of our current moment, we must rise beyond boldness and move fearlessly into the future.

Changes like the climate crisis, the AI revolution, and political polarization seem to have created a future in flux. But our redoubled commitment to preparing our students to be leaders and trailblazers will allow Barnard to meet and exceed these challenges. 

Over the next decade, Barnard will lead into the future with five foundations for a strengthened campus community and an elevated impact. 

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Leading for Tomorrow

  • Develop authentic intelligence. The meteoric growth of artificial intelligence promises to change work and learning as we know it. To empower our students to embrace the opportunities of tomorrow, we will develop campus-wide standards of AI literacy. But as we engage with new tech, we also lead with our liberal arts roots, which uniquely empower Barnard students to approach AI with creativity, analysis, and intelligence that’s anything but artificial. 
  • Innovate in academics. While we remain true to our history as a liberal arts college, we also think expansively about what a modern education should be. Barnard course offerings of the future will increase opportunities where students need them most, from better accessibility in STEM education to co-curricular engagement and hands-on learning. Building on our strengths and diverging from our peers, we’ll continue to emphasize education in spaces that have not historically been gender inclusive. 
  • Reach Net Zero. Climate change already impacts the health of our living and working environment—without swift action, those impacts will only increase in the coming years. For the health and safety of our community, we must reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Building on the ongoing work of our resident sustainability experts, we will completely transform our campus consumption by switching to renewable energy systems, growing our community partnerships, and emphasizing circularity. 
  • Advocate for inclusion. To strengthen our commitment to access, Barnard will announce its first-ever loan forgiveness plan in the fall of 2024. This will open doors to a Barnard education for more students in the middle class and ensure that Barnard continues to be a place where extraordinary young women can thrive, no matter their background or ability to pay. We will continue to approach the future with a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and with innovation to create uninhibited belonging for our diverse community.
  • Embrace gender. Now more than ever, navigating our world requires a critical understanding of gender. We redouble our commitment to the heart of Barnard’s mission: engaging with gender in all its complexity and empowering young women to pursue their passions. Capitalizing on our rich history, we will continue to be the top thought leaders on gender and everything it impacts: reproductive health, technology, climate change, political engagement, and more.
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Creating Communities of Care

  • Disagree better. Widespread political polarization, hostile online discourse, and momentous global events have collided to bring us to a vital juncture in our history. We cannot continue on this trajectory—our education and our lives are at stake. Beginning immediately, Barnard is creating programming and teaching resources that put engaged pluralism first. Together, we will develop skills for respectful dialogue to build a more harmonious future.  
  • Cultivate community. The wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has left our country, and young adults especially, in a loneliness epidemic. In this moment, our social, emotional, and mental wellness depend on our ability to create opportunities for relationship building, strengthened traditions, and community engagement. Women’s colleges, at their cores, understand the value a supportive network has for well-being and learning. Reinvestment in community is the natural response to our tense world and our hope for a more connected future.  
  • Be well. Alongside the opening of the new Francine LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being, Barnard will stand out as a leader in campus wellness. Robust programming and support for wellness—mentally, physically, financially, intellectually, socially—will empower our community members to reach their highest potential and to take ownership of their health. Without wellness, we can’t achieve any other goal of our mission. To meet the demands they will face as tomorrow’s leaders, or to engage with one another at the highest levels of understanding and compassion, our students must start with wellness. 
  • Strengthen our ties. Our New York roots make us who we are. Barnard students are enriched by the city, academically and socially, but the future of their relationship to New York depends on Barnard’s engagement as a good neighbor. Bolstered community partnerships—especially local partnerships in Harlem and Morningside Heights—will help us to engage with care and give as much to New York as we gain from it. These partnerships will widen our understanding of our campus community and our students’ understanding of themselves. 
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Investing in Infrastructures of Excellence

  • Harness technology. To get to excellence, we cannot be bogged down by inefficient tech and stifled communications. Best-in-class systems—and the training to use them well—will enable our staff to do more and go further within the same time, while a robust data warehouse will allow for centralized information and increased collaboration across departments.
  • Optimize our infrastructure. Ten years from now, every one of our buildings will better reflect and promote our amazing community. Across campus, we’ll address leaks, heating and cooling defects, and other issues caused by aging infrastructure. Modernizing our buildings and dorms is an essential step toward our sustainability goals and toward a campus environment that actively supports our community well-being.
  • Enhance accessibility. As we work to become a campus that is comprehensively inclusive, our campus must be designed for accessibility rather than accommodating of disability. We commit to going above and beyond guidelines, creating an infrastructure that works for all of us. 
  • Upgrade our living spaces. For our students, Barnard isn’t just school or work—it’s home. It should also be a space where students feel fully comfortable to rest and recharge so that they can thrive mentally, physically, and academically. We can do better to provide the home our students deserve, and upgrading our living facilities is the place to start. 
  • Be prepared. As we aim for the best, we will prepare to withstand the worst. Now is the time for dynamic planning, to ensure that all our systems are resilient in emergencies. Preventative measures against cybersecurity threats, resistance to environmental risks, and flexibility in other disruptions are paramount so that Barnard’s mission can thrive for years to come. 
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OneBarnard: Foundation for the Future

  • Join as one. Although we all bring different perspectives to the table, we are united as OneBarnard. We aim to foster a spirit of partnership and collegiality in everything we do, recognizing our shared investment in what Barnard can be. 
  • Bridge the gaps. Breaking down administrative silos will allow us to save time by sharing information, opening our doors to the creativity that collaboration brings. Creativity and togetherness will drive us forward into the future, and they will make the process of moving forward joyful for everyone involved. Whenever possible, we will use our shared data to work together across sectors of the College. 
  • Care in common. Barnard’s campus and resources are ours, collectively. That shared ownership comes with a shared stewardship — it is up to each of us to treat our campus with respect and maintain our systems. We aim to make visible the role that each of us has to play and the impact each of us has on our campus ecosystem. To do that, every community member will invest in clear, collaborative processes to keep Barnard operating at its best.  
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Reaching One Billion

  • Grow our endowment. Barnard was founded on an idea, not an endowment—and we’ve historically been a savvy institution, doing more with less. But a stronger endowment will serve as an investment in the future, providing resources for new initiatives and progressive educational opportunities. Together, we will take on a fundraising campaign to reach our first $1 billion in the endowment by the end of the decade.
  • Steward our resources. Attentive, effective use of our current resources will create space for a successful fundraising campaign. Alongside our careful use of current funds, we’ll explore new revenue opportunities in areas that align with the College’s mission and values. With these combined approaches, newly fundraised dollars will have maximum impact. 
  • Protect our future. Barnard’s endowment is the surest custodian of mission-critical programs, including financial aid and scholarships. Growing our endowment will further secure these programs so that generations of future Barnard students can access an education that empowers.

These foundations are a collective vision, built from months of community conversations and the efforts of our students, faculty, and staff to Shape Barnard’s Future Together. Likewise, these foundations will be a collective achievement when we go out and accomplish them together.