11. New York, New York

                                                                Chapter 11
New York, New York



“I wouldn’t trade Barnard’s location for Wellesley’s endowment.”
— President Judith R. Shapiro, often[1]


The announcement  in April 1993 of Ellen Futter’s planned resignation after 13  years as president of Barnard to accept the presidency of the American Museum of Natural History  surprised some senior administrators and most faculty, but apparently not the trustees. They promptly  appointed Kathryn J. Rodgers, then Vice President for Student Affairs, acting president.   A  graduate of Smith College and Columbia Law School, Rodgers  had been at Barnard since 1981 as one of  acting president Futter’s first outside appointees. They had known each other since law school and  worked together early in their respective legal careers. As general counsel, Rodgers became responsible for  the College’s   legal affairs and for community and government relations. Much of the negotiation that went on between Barnard and Columbia was conducted on the Barnard side by her;  in the process she became highly regarded by her Low Library counterparts.  As vice president for student affairs she was popular with students and innovative, especially in the provision of health services.[2]

Auspicious times for Barnard to be looking for a new leader.  She  would the first in Barnard’s 105-year history to commence her tenure with virtually all the College’s  vital signs trending upward.   Her predecessor had  effected a turnaround in Barnard’s fortunes, leaving the college in better shape than at any time since the McIntosh-Park transition in 1962. But unlike  Rosemary Park or Martha Peterson or Laura Drake Gill, all auslanders, and unlike Virginia Gildersleeve, a remnant of  “Old New York,”  or Millicent McIntosh, a New Yorker by adoption, or even Futter, a child of the suburbs, the College’s  tenth leader and sixth president would personify Barnard’s identity as a quintessential New York institution.

                                                                 1. Girl of the Boros

Judith Rae Shapiro was born in Jamaica, Queens on January 24, 1942. Her family, which included a younger sister,  later moved  to the ethnically mixed but all-white neighborhood of Jamaica Estates North. “Upwardly mobile,” she later allowed, “but not Jamaica Estates,” where the Trumps lived.  Judith’s  grandparents came from Belorussia, and her parent, while not very observant Reform Jews,  were enough so that their daughter acknowledged, as per Alfred Kazin,   “I do feel like a New York Jew.” Her  father was an accountant for a meat company in the mornings and afternoons managed  the books for  Belmont, Aqueduct and Jamaica race tracks. Her mother was a public school librarian and, unlike her husband,  a college graduate.  Judith attended PS 26 (with Stephen Jay Gould and Jonathan Cole)  and Jamaica High School. [3]
College-shopping included  a tour of Smith, where the pleated skirts, circle pins and sweater sets (it was 1959) provoked the reaction,  “Holy moly, get me out of here.” (Barnard was not an option as she would have had to  commute.)  After giving serious thought to Carnegie Tech, she was encouraged by her mother to consider  a liberal arts college with a strong theatre program and  settled on Brandeis.
“I wanted to be an actress.” [4]

Once at Brandeis, she quickly switched from theatre to history to take  advantage of that  department’s roster of academic notables, including  Frank Manuel and Herbert Marcuse.                              Her interest in theatre was sustained through performing in plays and folk-singing gigs in Cambridge and Provincetown. Of Brandeis’s student camps – “upwardly mobile Jewish kids headed for the professions” and  “intellectuals/bohemians” – she aligned with the latter. [5]
Upon graduation in 1963, Shapiro accepted a fellowship in history at Berkeley, where she was hoping to work in European history with Carl Schorske. Two weeks into the program  she decided that “spending my life in an archive”  was not for her and she returned to New York City. In the fall of 1965 she entered the Columbia doctoral program in cultural anthropology, having been awarded an NIH fellowship. In the summer of 1966 she undertook her first fieldwork with the Tapirape in Mato Grosso (central Brazil), where her mentor Charles Wagley had conducted fieldwork in 1939-40. They  considered her Wagley’s “niece.”  In 1967-68, her orals behind her,  she lived among the  Yanomami  in what was then the northwestern territory and now the state of Roraima. Her work there led to a completed dissertation published three years later as Sex Roles and Social Structure  Among the Yanomami Indians of Northern Brazil (1972). [6]

In 1970 Shapiro was appointed an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, the first woman in its fabled Department of Anthropology. She held that appointment  for five years, during which she accepted  a post-doc appointment at Berkeley in 1974-75.  From there she accepted an appointment at Bryn Mawr College, receiving tenure shortly thereafter, and where she  spent twelve years as a member of its five-person anthropology department, becoming its chair in 1984. At the time of her appointment, Bryn Mawr had as its president Harris Wofford, with Mary Patterson McPherson the college’s dean of the faculty.  In 1978 McPherson became president and Mary Maples  Dunn, an historian, became Dean of the College.  Both made use of Shapiro in quasi-administrative tasks of increasing complexity.  She in turn considered McPherson “an incarnational president, combining  ego-strength with an absence of narcissism.” Not least of her mentor’s administrative skills  was a capacity, when confronted with contentious issues, to “rise above” them a manner that Shapiro later dubbed “the helium principle.” [7]

In 1985, upon the departure of Dunn to become president of Smith, McPherson made Shapiro Dean of the College.  A year later she assumed the new position of  provost.  Her principal  challenges were to work with the President and deans to close many of the College’s once-flourishing-but-now tiny graduate programs (including one in anthropology) without alienating the faculty identified with them, and to develop cooperative undergraduate programs with neighboring Haverford and Swarthmore.  Her success in both undertakings, plus the active promoting by McPherson, who by the late 1980s had become recognized as  head of the “Bryn Mawr Mafia,” which specialized in job-placement of female administrative talent, led her to be mentioned  for the dean of faculty position  at Amherst and the presidency of  Williams. Neither struck McPherson or Shapiro as the right fit. [8]

The announcement of the Barnard search for a new president in the fall of 1993 sounded more promising. McPherson  had served as chair of Barnard’s Middle States Reaccreditation team in 1991 and was familiar with both its problems and its promise. “Barnard,“ the president of the more generously endowed Bryn Mawr wrote, “has always had to sail close to the wind,” in knowing reference to the College’s comparatively straitened financial circumstances. McPherson had also served as an informal adviser to Futter at the outset of her presidency.  Shapiro had her own friends at Barnard, among them the anthropologists Paula Rubel.  Abraham Rosman, Morton Klass and Joan Vincent, plus the dean of the faculty, Robert  McCaughey, who shered her company at several Seven Sister Conferences.  Smitten with the search committee, which included three trustees, then trustee chair Helene Kaplan (BC ’53) and future chair Patricia Green (BC   ‘64), plus professor of Spanish Mirella Servodidio (BC ‘55),  Shapiro agreed to further discussions. Coming away from the interview, she later recalled her feelings: “I wanted this job, really wanted it.” [9]
The search committee was equally enthusiastic. Shapiro was a native New Yorker (as were all  search committee members save the journalist and author  Anna Quindlen  (a Hoboken resident by way of suburban Philadelphia), had administrative experience with women’s colleges, and knew Columbia. Although the committee likely did not have it as a criterion, the faculty had made clear its desire that the next president be an academic. (This sentiment likely eliminated acting president Kathryn Rodgers from the serious consideration her success as  acting president  otherwise warranted.)  Though regretful to see her leave Bryn Mawr,  McPherson  became Shapiro’s campaign manager. [10]

The trustees moved quickly on March 21, 1994 to announce the appointment of Judith R. Shapiro as Barnard’s 6th president. The inauguration followed on October 27th, a ceremony marked by the first-time inclusion of a 34-year veteran  of the College’s support staff, Milton_Elliott Tanis, among the official speakers. The recessional from Riverside Church included a recording of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York.” [11]

  1. The Further Domestication of Columbia

One task facing the new president in the fall of 1994 was finding a new  dean of the faculty upon the decision of McCaughey after seven years in the job to return to full-time teaching in the history department. The political scientist Flora  Davidson (BC ’72; CU PhD 1978) served as acting dean from July 1994 until June 1995, and Associate Provost thereafter, when Elizabeth S. Boylan became dean of the faculty and assumed the new title of Provost. Boylan, a Wellesley graduate and Cornell  PhD in biology, had been a member of the Queens College faculty and its dean of faculty. Her credentials as a research scientist and professor added to the new administration’s standing as one knowledgeable  about academic folkways. Her appointment also  broke with the nearly half-century practice of Barnard’s chief academic officer being a male. [12]

One place where the president’s  and provost’s prior experience as academic administrators  was quickly put to use was in the College’s ongoing dealings with Columbia. There a recent change in presidents  made future relations again unclear. In 1993 Michael I. Sovern had retired as Columbia’s president, upon completion of thirteen years marked by the University’s improving financial fortunes and the admission of women to Columbia College. His successor, George E. Rupp, while not a total stranger to Morningside Heights, came to it as an outsider. One thing that impressed the search committee was that as president of Rice University and before that as dean of the experimental Johnston College at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay,  he had demonstrated a keen interest in undergraduate education. What was not known was what, if anything, he thought about the Barnard connection. [13]

Rupp’s first forays into assaying the Barnard-Columbia relationship were hardly encouraging. At his introductory meeting with President Shapiro  he allowed the thought that Barnard should be folded into Columbia as Radcliffe had been into Harvard during his graduate school years in Cambridge. He described Barnard’s continued existence alongside a now-coeducational Columbia College as “anomalous.” When Shapiro offered “unique” as a more positive descriptor, Rupp remained unpersuaded and continued to frame the BC/CU relationship as “a problem that needed solving.” [14]

Yet in subsequent discussions Rupp, whom Shapiro found “personally decent and constructive, and a good listener,” proved open to evidence. This included the fact that Barnard grades matched those of Columbia students in both Barnard- and Columbia-taught classes, and that Barnard produced more science majors than did Columbia. Columbia provost Jonathan Cole had been  a classmate of Shapiro’s back at PS 26 and  a fellow Columbia graduate student in the late 1960s. In their early official dealings  Cole advised Shapiro that the BC/CU relationship was “not that of Bryn Mawr and Haverford,” by which he meant a relationship of equals. “Oh, Jonathan, I know that,” she dependably responded.  She “then proceeded to act as if it were.” Shapiro also got on well with the ebullient dean of the Columbia Engineering School, Zvi Galil, with whom she shared an appreciation of New York restaurants and dry martinis. [15]

Cordial relations were quickly established  and then maintained between Provost Boylan and her principal Columbia counterparts, University provosts Jonathan Cole and  Alan Brinkley,  and Dean of Columbia College Austin Quigley.  Boylan remembers her dealings with Brinkley, as “especially cordial” and transacted with a “sense of collegiality.” Relations with Dean Quigley were similarly  amicable and perhaps made especially so by the fact that as the Columbia English Department’s leading specialist in dramatic literature he had earlier advised Barnard on the setting up of its theater program. It also  helped  that his wife, Patricia Denison, was a member of the Barnard English Department. At the committee-of-instruction working level, their respective chairs,  Columbia College Dean of Academic Affairs Kathryn Yatrakis and Barnard Associate provost Flora Davidson,  shared a friendship going back twenty years to their days as junior members of the Barnard Department of Political Science. [16]

3. Bumps Along the Way
Still, not all good times.  An instance  Shapiro later recalled as  “my one truly horrible experience at Barnard.” This was the on-again/off-again strike of the union representing Barnard’s mostly female support staff in the spring of 1996. That the strike occurred early in her presidency  and only weeks after the installation of a new Provost, involved many of Barnard’s lowest paid employees, and centered Barnard’s efforts to alter their  healthcare benefits, made it especially stressful. That the strikers early on  won the vocal support of most students and many faculty, who refused to cross picket lines and moved classes off campus,  made it even more so. “The strike was traumatic for me,” the president has since acknowledged. “I became depressed by it.” Some observers worried  she might decamp for Bryn Mawr, while Associate Dean Flora Davidson, hoping to take her mind off the strike, took her boss bowling.  Outside mediation eventually convinced 2110 union officials that they had won and when  other Barnard unions did not join the support staff in the strike, a settlement was reached in September  and the campus returned to normal. [17]

The other personally taxing incident in the Shapiro presidency came near its close in 2007. It involved a tenure controversy. Unlike those that turned on a rejection of a Barnard nominee by an ad hoc committee or by the University provost, this one involved Nadia Abu El-Haj, a Bryn Mawr graduate, Duke PhD,  and assistant professor of anthropology since 2002,  who had in 2006 been nominated for tenure by her department and approved by Barnard’s Appointments and Tenure Committee. It was at this point that her principal published work, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (2001),  came under fire from critics who charged Abu El-Haj with a pro-Palestinian bias. Among those calling for her to be denied tenure were  Barnard graduates, some living in Israel,  who threatened to withhold funds from Barnard. They also included  a senior member of the Barnard Religion Department and a noted scholar of Jewish Studies,  Alan F. Segal,  whose opposition distressed both the President and his many friends and admirers on the faculty. [18]

President Shapiro intervened to the extent that she defended the tenure process as “‘one of the linchpins of academic freedom and liberal arts education” that must be conducted “thoughtfully, comprehensively, systematically and confidentially.”  Rather than voice her personal opinion of the book’s thesis, or criticize angry alumnae,  she called for the review process to run its course  without “outside lobbying.”  Segal was allowed to testify before the Barnard tenure committee, which unanimously forwarded the nomination to Columbia. When the University  ad hoc committee  recommended Abu-Haj be granted tenure and the Columbia provost confirmed that decision, the Barnard trustees almost all agreed. “Not quite an instance of Profiles in Courage,” Shapiro later acknowledged, though others following  the case, including Jane Kramer in the New Yorker and the editorial board of  The New York Times, applauded her stance. [19]

Another  instance of Shapiro’s prudence in the face of discord occurred in 2005 when the Columbia University Senate, at President Bollinger’s urging,  seemed about to recommend to the trustees that its 1969 ban on officer training programs be lifted and a Naval Reserve Officer Corps program be reinstalled. Barnard’s president, whose younger sister was a colonel in the Army Medical Reserves, was personally in favor of doing so, as were some Barnard students from military families or contemplating military careers. But when the Barnard faculty took up the question, it was clear opponents greatly outnumbered supporters.  Shapiro quietly acceded to a vote that put the Barnard faculty on record as overwhelmingly opposed to a return of the military to the Columbia campus. [20]

Other challenges encountered during the Shapiro presidency  were taken on by members of her administrative team. One involved the US News & World Report annual rankings of colleges in which Barnard consistently ranked in the mid-twenties among national liberal arts colleges,  below all the other Sister colleges as well as other less selective colleges. For several years Barnard officials complained that the metrics used  penalized Barnard for the economies  resulting from its sharing resources with Columbia. Barnard became part of a consortium of colleges, under the rubric of the Annapolis Group, that stopped providing data to US News & World Report . But still the rankings rankled. On one occasion, Shapiro, addressing the members of the board’s  Educational Policy Committee,  delivered a full-throated attack on the methodology used by the magazine to compile its rankings, not realizing that the trustees had already discounted their significance. When she finished, one of the trustees  solicitously inquired of their  hyperventilating president: “Feel better now?” [21]

4.  “Aspiring Crowds” Redux
Making changes in  longstanding policies involving student financial aid fell primarily to two other senior members of the Shapiro administrative team, Dean of the College Dorothy Denburg and Financial Aid Director Suzanne Guard.  Ever since the introduction of residential scholarships in the first years of Virginia Gildersleeve’s deanship in 1913, only non-New York City residents were deemed eligible. The official  explanation for this policy was to use the residential scholarships to broaden the geographical reach of the College; others saw it as intended to limit the number of Jews at Barnard.

Whatever the reasoning, this exclusionary policy remained in force into the 1990s when Denburg and Guard set about to change it. Denburg,  whose parents  were Holocaust survivors, was properly sensitive to the policy’s discriminatory history. Both realized that the policy no longer primarily affected Jewish New Yorkers but all New Yorkers otherwise eligible for financial aid, who, without such aid but wanting a residential experience, went elsewhere. With the active support of President Shapiro, Board chair Patricia Green and Finance Committee Chair Dale Horowitz, the nine-decade policy was changed. Henceforth, New York City residents eligible for tuition assistance were also eligible for  assistance with their room and board. Admitted applicants from the city’s top public schools, who might have earlier gone off to Cornell or Stony Brook with full financial support, now received it if they chose to come to Barnard. [22]

Another change affecting students and their tuition-paying parents made in the Shapiro presidency involved study abroad. Traditionally, Barnard students who wished to spend a semester or a year studying abroad  (usually in their junior year) did so by taking a leave of absence from Barnard and enrolling  in  a site-specific program administered by one of the American universities that maintained several programs in or near universities around the globe. (Syracuse and Boston University were two of the larger providers.) The cost of studying abroad for a semester for a Barnard student was typically less than  had she remained at Barnard, a fact not lost on tuition-paying parents.  Thus, for students whose families were paying full-ticket for their college education, study abroad could not only be culturally enriching but could be had at a bargain. [23]
Not so for Barnard students on financial aid. The longstanding College policy limited such  assistance to when a student was attending Barnard and was not transferable should she wish to enroll in a study-abroad program. Thus for her and her family study abroad was not a bargain but required an additional and very likely unavailable outlay. The upshot was that students with substantial financial-aid packages into the 1990s seldom ventured abroad. [24]

This was an equity problem for which no inexpensive solution seemed to exist. That is until  Dean of the College Denburg again joined forces with Director of Financial Aid Guard to come up with one that was both ingenious and income-neutral for Barnard if not for families who paid full fees. They proposed that students planning to  study abroad continue to make tuition payments to Barnard, which would take responsibility for covering the costs of the particular study-abroad provider. This meant that a full-tuition-paying Barnard student would no longer pocket any difference between Barnard’s higher tuition and the study-abroad provider’s lower tuition. But it also meant that students on financial aid could now go abroad to study at no additional tuition cost. In this classic instance of downward wealth redistribution, Barnard found a way of doing good while doing well. [25]

These adjustments in residential policy and study-abroad funding  might be seen as small beer in the larger scheme of  things, minor adjustments at the margin made by responsible administrators doing their job.  But together they formed part of  a more comprehensive and president-led commitment to making Barnard more accessible and welcoming  to those who in an earlier day would not have considered coming to Barnard. And once they were here, to make what Barnard earlier had to offer to some  available to all.    No small ambition.

Meanwhile, efforts undertaken in the previous two presidencies to, as Futter put it , “get Barnard’s story out there,”  along with an improving demographic picture,  produced annual increases in applications, which in turn allowed Barnard to become increasingly selective. By 2000 Barnard had become the most selective of the remaining five Sister colleges, admitting 33% of its applicants, down from 45% eight years earlier, when Doris Davis, Barnard’s first black senior administrator, began as  Director of Admissions. Davis’s departure that year to become Director of Admissions at Cornell became the occasion for Barnard to appoint as her successor Jennifer Fondiller, BC ’88, previously admissions director at the New School’s Eugene Lang College. Under Fondiller’s direction, the volume of applications continued to rise and the admission process became ever more selective.  In the argot of college-hunting, Barnard was “hot.” [26]

  1.    “Faculty Just Coming and Going”

A more substantive challenge facing the College and falling mostly to the provost to meet involved the tenuring of Barnard faculty. To be sure, many of the difficulties  that followed on the adoption of the Columbia ad hoc procedures in 1974 had been resolved by the late 1980s, mostly by Barnard becoming more insistent upon demonstrated scholarly performance by its inside candidates and more frequently  hiring established scholars from outside. But what if an unintended consequence of this two-pronged strategy was that men were now more successful in securing tenure than women?

One particularly stressful case early in Boylan’s provostship where gender, race and interdisciplinarity intersected involved Judith Weisenfeld, an African American scholar of the black religious experience in America.  A Barnard graduate (1986) and Princeton PhD, Weisenfeld was appointed assistant professor of religion in 1991. At the time of her tenure review she was one of the College’s most popular teachers, the chair-designate of the African Studies Department, and the author of  African American Women and Christian Activism: New York’s Black YWCA, 1905-1945 (1997).  Recommended by her department and approved by Barnard’s tenure committee, she was rejected by the University Provost after a divided vote of the Columbia ad hoc committee reviewing her case. She shortly thereafter returned to Princeton, was awarded tenure and currently holds a chaired professorship in religion and African American studies. [27]

Faculty numbers for 1997-98  suggested something was amiss  when women constituted  61% of the full-time faculty but less than 50% of the tenured faculty. Moreover, the percentage of tenured women faculty was seen to be trending downward. (In 1998 -99 it dropped into the 40% range.)  Like the careful scientist that she was, Provost Boylan sought out data to determine whether this was so, and if so, why. [28]

The data came in a study undertaken independently in the spring of 1999  by Assistant Professor of  Astronomy Laura Kay and Assistant Professor of Sociology Kelly Moore, which tracked the career progress of all 85 assistant professors  appointed at Barnard between 1981 and 1992. They found that the  survival rate (i.e., promotion to tenure) among them  was 23%, just under one-in-four. (This matched that of Columbia assistant professors  but was considerably lower than  other Sisters and most select liberal arts colleges.)  Among male assistant professors the survival rate was 29%; among female assistant professors, 17%. The study also confirmed anecdotal evidence that while women made it through the Barnard tenuring process at comparable rates to men, they experienced tougher going at the ad hoc level. As expected, preliminary analysis pointed to two contributing factors: the recent success in the outside  hiring of several senior men; the persistent problems posed by the ad hoc system for junior women. [29]

Both investigators expected  lower survival rates for scientists than for those in other fields, given Barnard’s chronic lack of laboratory space and access to post-docs and graduate students. As Kay later described the situation in the College’s building housing most of the College’s science faculty: “Altschul in the ‘90s – They were just coming and going.” What they discovered, however, was that faculty in the humanities, of both genders, fared worse than did those in the sciences and social sciences. As for those in the sciences, they found, to no one’s surprise, “people who published more were more likely to get tenure.” [30]
Out of these findings came a number of corrective actions, all pressed for by the provost, supported by President Shapiro, and approved by the board of trustees.  They included a lifting of the 50% tenure cap on the percentage of tenured faculty that had been in place since the mid-1980s, and which, when  applied at the department level, resulted in an overall tenure level closer to 40%. Directly addressing the situation confronting women faculty, the leave policy was modified to allow faculty on post-partum leave  more time to advance their scholarly agendas. This benefit was also extended to male faculty with parental responsibilities. Again, with special reference to the sciences, start-up  packages were increased substantially to provide more funds to get labs up and running without waiting on outside grants. [31]
Meanwhile,  the trustee-imposed embargo on additional hires was lifted at the urging of President Shapiro and Provost Boylan, allowing the faculty to expand from 165 full-time officers of instruction in 1994 to 198 in 2008.  This has made it possible to increase modestly the proportion of diversity members, as occurred in 2005 through the use of a Ford Foundation “Difficult Dialogues” grant that led to a subsequent cluster hire (in 2010)  of literary theorist Tina Campt,   historian Celia Naylor, and poet/novelist Yvette Christianse, whose appointments increased diversity representation in the departments of  English, history and women’s  studies, while assuring senior staffing in Africana Studies. Appointing and retaining minority faculty remained a challenge for Barnard in a fiercely competitive market, especially in the case of female minority faculty, but Barnard in the Shapiro era became more willing to commit the resources to do so. [32]

By the end of the Shapiro presidency the gender  gap in tenure rates  had not only closed but  women were now advancing to tenure at a higher rate than men, or so analysis of the 52 assistant professors hired between 1998 and 2006 would suggest.    Of the 52, 24 have since been tenured for an overall  survival rate of 46%. Of the 32 women, 19 were promoted to tenured associate professorships (59%), while of the 20 men,  5 (25%) were promoted. [33]

Two women hired during this period and subsequently tenured, the historian of science Deborah Coen and the political scientist Kimberly Johnson, have since moved on to Yale and NYU respectively. Among those who came and went during the Shapiro presidency were the literary biographer Gretchen Gerzina, whom Barnard had attracted from Vassar only to lose her to Dartmouth, and the philosopher/archaeologist Alison Wylie from Washington University only to lose to the University of Washington. Such voluntary departures were (are) not limited to women scholars, as evidenced by the departures of Benjamin Buchloch, in art history, who went to Harvard, and the novelist Caryl Phillips, who went to Yale, but their number  is at least suggestive of the possibility that professional mobility, once limited to Barnard’s male faculty, has of late become an option favoring Barnard’s female faculty. [34]

Still another faculty development allowed by the increase of its size during the Shapiro presidency was the further internationalization of its regional coverage.  The case of a single  department and the efforts of its chair, the history department and its chair, the American historian  Rosalind Rosenberg, serves as a specific instance of a more general trend. The history department in 1994 was comprised of a dozen faculty who focused their teaching and research on the United States and western Europe, with  some attention during the Cold War era to the Soviet Union.  Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East were left almost entirely to Columbia historians. At Rosenberg’s urging it became the policy of the president  and her provost to have the history department develop competences in these heretofore neglected regions and provided the lines to do so.  In 2001, two hires, one senior East Asian specialist,  Dorothy Ko, and one junior appointment in South Asian history, Anupama Rao,  broadened the department’s global coverage. The junior appointment  in 2004 of Nara Milanich followed a year later by the senior appointment of Jose Moya further extended departmental coverage to Latin America, with Milanich having  a topical interest in family history and Moya in migration studies. In 2007, a junior appointment was made in African history with the hiring of Abosede George, who combines work in urban history and women’s studies. All three junior appointees – Rao, Milanich and George – have since been tenured. That five of the six self-identify as faculty of color (as does the 2008 appointee,  Celia Naylor, an Americanist who works in African American and Native American history) had the additional benefit of transforming  a department earlier made up entirely of whites in the space of  a decade into one more ethnically and racially representative of both the world and our students. [35]

Political Science, under the chairmanship of US presidential scholar Richard Pious, and with the support of Professor Peter Juviler, the department’s specialist in human rights,  made a similar transformation from a department primarily focused on American politics to one with strengths in  comparative politics, international relations and theory, even as the membership became more international.  These include the appointments of Xiaobo Lu in Chinese politics and comparative politics, Kimberly Marten in international security and Russia,  and Alexander Cooley, a specialist on Central Asia.  Such speedy departmental transformations do not occur in academic life without effective, carrot-and-stick administrative advocacy. [36]
Elsewhere faculty ranks were renewed and modestly expanded. This occurred  through a combination of securing tenure for a growing number of junior hires whose scholarship and teaching earned them the recommendation of their departmental seniors, the support of the Barnard Committee on Appointments and Tenure, and the endorsement of a Columbia review board, and through targeted senior hires. Science departments, with the exception of psychology,  that in the two prior decades had an especially difficult time securing tenure for their junior members, were now more successful in doing so. During the Shapiro presidency Barnard’s science faculty increased from 19% to 25% of the College’s full-time faculty. [37]
Meanwhile, turn-of-the-century Barnard made seven senior appointments that provided departmental leadership upon arrival. Of these , four were women, none of whom had attended a women’s college or did their graduate work at Columbia. [38]

                                                                                “How’m  I  Doin’?”

Gauging the overall institutional wellbeing of a college at a given point in its history is a tricky business, all too often dependent upon anecdotal evidence and surmise.  This said, some measureable vital signs – metrics — do exist that collectively permit a cautious response to the question regularly posed by Edward Koch to his fellow New Yorkers during his eight years as Mayor and equally applicable for College leaders: “How’m I doin’?”  Available numbers for Barnard at the millennial turn allow the answer, “Pretty well.”

— Student Selectivity
In 1994, at the commencement of the Shapiro presidency, Barnard received 2,731 applications for admission; in 2007, the start of the last year,   it received 4,574, an increase of   67%.  In 1994, Barnard admitted 43% of its applicants; in 2007, 29%, a decrease of 33%. Yield rates  (admitted students who enrolled)  remained in the 45% – 50% range throughout these years.  [39]

– Student  Geographical Diversity
In 1994, 22% of the Barnard student body came from homes outside the northeast; in 2007, 32%,
with Californians second only to New Yorkers in state-representation among Barnard students. [40]

— Student Diversity/ Economic circumstances
In 1994, 22% of Barnard incoming students were eligible for low-income Pell Grants; in 2008 the
percentage had slipped slightly to 18%, but still substantially higher than any of the other sister
colleges and  comparable to the percentage of Pell grantees at Columbia. [41]

— Student Diversity/Race and Ethnicity

     In 1995, 30% of the Barnard student body identified as students of color; in 2007, 40%, with most
of the increase  attributable to growing numbers of Hispanic students. Asian Americans  continued to
be the highest represented and African Americans the lowest -represented,  both among the self-
identified minorities and the student body as a whole. [42]

  • Budgetary Management
    The financial situation at the start of the Shapiro presidency in 1994 was decidedly mixed. On the upside was the fact that the Futter administration had consistently operated with balanced budgets, even on occasion enjoying an end-of-year surplus, which Finance Committee chairman Horowitz preferred calling  “instances of income exceeding expenditures.” It had also launched two capital campaigns, the first Centennial Campaign for $20 million to help underwrite the construction of the dormitory, and the second, for $40 million, in progress in 1994 when Shapiro arrived, and which she and the board promptly increased  to $65 million. [43]On the downside, most of the cost of Sulzberger Hall was financed  by issuing  30-year bonds that had to be paid back from operating income. The Sulzberger family naming gift of $5 million  covered only the debt service for the first five years. Also of concern was that the costs of the capital campaigns were carried  “off budget” and now needed to be included in 1995-96 and 1996-97 budgets, adding another  $1.5 million to the expense side of each. Once this was accomplished, the Shapiro presidency thereafter also regularly experienced budgetary  “instances of income exceeding expenditures.” [44]
  • Endowment Growth
    The endowment the Shapiro presidency inherited had a market value of $60 million ($140 million in 2019 dollars), which represented a doubling in the 13-year Futter presidency; the endowment the Shapiro presidency turned over in 2008  had a market value of $220 million ($252 million in 2019 dollars), a near quadrupling. Favorable economic times certainly helped, but so did effective fundraising aimed at endowment enhancement. During the Shapiro presidency the number of endowed professorships swelled from xx at its outset to xx at its close. [45]
  • Plant Expansion
    The major planned capital  project of the Shapiro presidency was an architecturally striking  multi-use four-story building fronting on Broadway for which construction began in 2004, replacing the four-decade old and already bedraggled McIntosh Student Center. Originally given the place-holding name of “Nexus,” it was renamed “The Diana Center” after the College received a naming gift of $15 million from Roy and Diana Vagelos, she a Barnard alumna (Diana Touliatou, ’55)  and trustee. [46]
    But even as this long-in-the-planning building was going up, the Barnard trustees received an “out of the blue” offer: the chance to acquire an also-under-construction 14-story Cathedral Gardens located on 110th, across from the southern limits of Morningside Park.  Its unexpected availability followed on  Columbia’s  deciding to offload the building upon redirecting its expansionary plans northward to Manhattanville. Still without a naming gift for “Nexus,”  but aware of the ongoing need for student and faculty housing, the trustees quickly decided that this was an offer they could not refuse and proceeded to vote to borrow the money to buy it. Provost Boylan, who was involved in the deliberations, later cited it as a prime instance of the  ethos animating the board, its chair Anna Quindlen and the Shapiro administration: “If we didn’t  take those risks it would never have happened.” [47]Other building projects included the 1997 renovation of the Altschul Science Tower to provide its faculty inhabitants with additional laboratory space, the refurbishing of a classroom on the fourth floor of Milbank, hereinafter the Kreuger Auditorium, named for longtime trustee Constance Kreuger (BC ‘ 53) and construction of a new auditorium on the third floor of Barnard Hall, named in honor of the distinguished and beloved Barnard art historian, Julius Held. Not since the McIntosh era four decades earlier had so  much of the Barnard campus been designated “Hard Hats Only.” [48]
  • Administrative Continuity
    Shapiro’s 14-year tenure made her the third- longest serving administrative head  in the College’s history. Several members of her senior staff enjoyed comparably lengthy terms, which made  for a impressively stable period in the College’s administrative history. Dean of the College Dorothy Denburg was in place at the outset of Shapiro’s presidency and stayed on into that of her successor;
    Provost Boylan came at the start of Shapiro’s second year in the presidency and stayed on three years into that of her successor;  two directors of admissions, Doris Davis (1992-2002) and Jennifer Gill Fondiller (2002 – ),  served during the Shapiro presidency. More discontinuous was the position of chief financial officer, which was held successively by Sigmund Ginsburg (1985-1994), Barry Kaufman (1995-2001), Lew Wyman (2001-05) and Gregory  Brown (2006-14), with Brown staying on into the next presidential administration.  Overall, steady management marked the period. [49] 
  • Trustee oversight
    Three women headed up the board of trustees during the Shapiro presidency. Patricia Green, BC ’62, educator and wife of former Congressman William Green,  served as chair from 1994 to 1998; the financial consultant Gayle Robinson, BC ’85, from 1998 to 2003; and the journalist/novelist Anna Quindlen, BC ’74, from 2003 to 2013. In the instance of Robinson, the board elected the first African American woman to lead an elite college board. [50]
    During the Shapiro presidency  the board became less Gotham-centric and Northeast-bounded with the election of three members from Florida, another three from California, and one from Greeley, Colorado. Of the New Yorkers on the board, however, nearly all  still lived on Manhattan’s East Side. Other changes: parents of  Barnard students began to be sought out as prospects for board membership; turnover increased somewhat, as did the percentage of women. Of the 46 trustees appointed between 1994 and 2007, 35 (76%) were women, 11 were men (24%). Of these 35 women, two were of Latina heritage – Sally Hernandez and Rosa Alonso BC ‘82; three were of Asian heritage – Amy Lai, BC ’89, Nancy Tze-Chung Wong BC ‘62  and Eileen Ling Moy BC ‘73;  and one was African American – Nina Shaw BC ‘76.  Jews likely continued to constitute the board’s largest group by religious affiliation, but Catholics, including Quindlen  and a future board chair, Jolyne Caruso-Fitzgerald BC  ’81,  retained an easy presence, while the number of  self-identified Mainline Protestants declined. [51]

The era when male lawyers dominated the board was over; it now  more drew more of its membership from the world of finance, where women had only recently become a presence in numbers. Among the 11 male appointees, three  — Harry Payne, Peter Stanley and Ronald Liebowitz — were or had been liberal arts college presidents. Meanwhile, the four-decade moratorium on clergy remained in place. [52]

For all these shifts in the social makeup of the board, its relationship with  the College’s administrative team remained cordial and effective. All three chairs developed trusting relationships with President Shapiro, while individual members on the major board committees have since warmly recalled the pleasure of working with  Provost Boylan, Dean of the College Denburg, and toward the close of the Shapiro presidency, the chief financial officer, Gregory Brown. To be sure, good times make such relationships easier to establish and sustain. But so, too, does a concerted effort of all involved to exploit fully the opportunities that passingly brief flush times allow to make permanent improvements in an institution that has known its share of lean times. [53]

  1.  A Professor’s President

      It is surely a simplification to identify Barnard deans and presidents by the constituency they seemed most attuned to serving.  But in some instances, Dean Gildersleeve’s compliant attentiveness to the policy wishes of Columbia’s President Butler, President Futter’s  to  her board of trustees, President Peterson’s to her fractious students and (it was said by her critics) to her Columbia interlocutors,  doing so provides a starting point for comparative analysis. When this  principal-constituency test is applied to the presidency of Judith Shapiro, the  call is easy to make: “Professor’s President”.

Of Barnard’s first ten administrative leaders, only  four came to their office with credentials as card-carrying professors: Virginia Gildersleeve, Rosemary Park, Millicent McIntosh, Judith Shapiro. In the first two cases their time in the classroom — Gildersleeve two years as a Columbia assistant professor of English, McIntosh three years a Bryn Mawr assistant professor of English — were neither protracted nor dispositive. Neither thereafter published in their fields although McIntosh occasionally taught a section of English as president. Park had an early career as a professor of German Literature, teaching at Connecticut College for a decade before becoming its president, but once out of the classroom never looked back. By contrast, Shapiro’s pre-administrative career as a professor extended  over  fifteen years at three different institutions, while her publications record and professional activities during that period established her scholarly reputation among academic anthropologists.  When she became a candidate for the Barnard presidency, it was Morningside’s anthropologists who first sang her praises, and they who applauded loudest when she took the job. It mattered to both the new president and to them that she be listed among the Anthropology Department’s professors in the College Catalogue, just as it mattered to the rest of the faculty that when she took sabbatical leave in 2001 she returned  to scholarly writing that had been dutifully put aside for presidenting.[54]

Comfortable in most public circumstances, Shapiro was particularly at home when participating in faculty meetings. Rather than preside at these monthly gatherings, this being the job of the provost, she operated as one among equals. Her comments were delivered in a style, and accompanied by the occasional scholarly reference or insider witticism,  immediately recognizable to faculty (for better or worse) as their own.  Unlike her predecessor, a lawyer by training and not given to sharing  more information than required, especially with faculty,  Shapiro was, on the collective testimony of her administrative colleagues, her least guarded and most transparent  in her dealings with faculty.  Both presidential  strategies proved effective in their day, but it was Shapiro’s  that endeared.

  1. Embracing Gotham

If there is a single theme that suffused the Shapiro presidency it might be that of “Barnard College in and of the City of New York.” At no previous point in its history had the College so eagerly celebrated its urban identity, its connectedness to Gotham past and present, its appreciation of the City’s diversity. That it did so even as its students and faculty and trustees came from  increasingly far-flung origins with less claim to being birthright New Yorkers than earlier generations of Barnard students, faculty and trustees  is not without a certain irony. Less so, however, if what Nicholas Murray Butler and Virginia Gildersleeve disparaged back in 1913 as being “too New Yorky” is viewed not so much inborn as an  acquired taste. It is this way of thinking that earlier allowed the Pennsylvania-born Margaret Mead to call herself a New Yorker, and subsequently for the California-reared Sian Beilock to do likewise. It is what Billy Joel, a son of Long Island,  called “a New York State of Mind.”[55]

Every public occasion became an opportunity for President Shapiro to stress the College’s embrace of New York’s cosmopolitan ways. Whether  joining in the mourning  and resolve that attended the City’s response to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, or celebrating Columbia’s 250th anniversary in 2004, she used the occasion to display Barnard’s bona fides as a civic presence. When alumnae returned for reunions, they could count on being serenaded  by their president with a medley of Broadway show tunes from their college years. And how many times did she resist sharing with all within hearing of her core conviction that “I would not trade Barnard’s location for Wellesley’s endowment”? [56]

To be sure, it helped that New York City at the millennial turn was on the upswing. Under the mayoral administrations of Rudolph Guiliani (1994-2001) and  Michael Bloomberg (2001-2013), the recovery first discernible to inveterate civic optimists during David Dinkins’  single term, and promised still earlier by the indefatigable Ed Koch, came to be. It also helped that Columbia during the presidency of George Rupp and, after 2003, Lee Bollinger, continued the recovery begun under Michael Sovern from a work-in-progress to an accomplished fact. In the meantime, Manhattan’s Upper West Side had become not only an appealing  neighborhood for the City’s upwardly mobile citizenry but a safe and exciting place for the best and brightest of the world’s young people to attend college. [57]

This said, the success of the Shapiro presidency was more than an instance of being in the right place at the right time. It was also more than a  local  institutional affirmation of Robert Merton’s (by way of the New Testament evangelist) “Matthew Effect”: “To everyone who has been given will be given more.”   It required  prudent stewardship by an engaged and generous board, a commitment to classroom excellence and scholarly enterprise by its faculty, and the presence of  students multi-talented and (as per Anna Quindlen’s anthem) “unafraid.”  But it also required  effective administrative advocacy, emanating from  the top,  which allowed Barnard in the opening years of the 21st century to seize  the propitious moment  to confront  questionable elements of  its past and put them right even as it settled into being the  most selective women’s college in America. [58]

Barnard’s sixth president had signed on for  two six-year terms and stayed for an additional two years.   In May  2007,  Judith R. Shapiro  gave the board a year’s notice of her intention to retire. She remained in place on June 30, 2008, to welcome her successor and assure a smooth transition.    After briefly trying retirement, she did some consulting and returned to the classroom as a practitioner in and promoter of Barnard historian Mark Carnes’s nationally acclaimed “Reacting to the Past” participatory learning project.  In 2013 she became president of the Teagle Foundation, having earlier served on its  board. Shapiro continues to live both on Morningside Heights  and in the Philadelphia suburb of Rosemont. She maintains a lively interest in the College, along with a healthy appreciation of the prime  rule of administrative  succession: “One-president-at-a-time.” [59]



[1] Judith R. Shapiro, interview with author, June 22, 2015.


[2] Kathryn J. Rodgers, interview with author, April 7, 2015.

[3] Judith R. Shapiro, interview with author, June 22, 2015.


[4] Ibid.


[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.


[7] Ibid.


[8] Ibid.; “Mary Patterson McPherson, sixth president of Bryn Mawr College (1978-1997),” Leading Bryn Mawr: An Exhibition in Honor of Nancy J. Vickers. Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, 1998).


[9] [Mary Patterson McPherson], Middle States Accreditation Report (1991); Paula Rubel and Abraham Rosman, interview with author, July 8, 2014; Judith Shapiro, interview with author, June 22, 2015.


[10] Richard Pious, correspondence with author, June 3, 2014.


[11] With the greatest pride and confidence [videorecording]: The inauguration of Judith R. Shapiro, Barnard College, October 27, 1994 (David Gordon Production, 1994)


[12] Elizabeth Boylan, interview with author, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, New York City,  November 3, 2016.


[13] McCaughey, Stand, Columbia, 557-561; George E. Rupp, “The Rupp Presidency,” a talk to the University Seminar on the History of Columbia University, May 1, 2019.


[14] Judith R. Shapiro, interview with author, June 22, 2015.


[15] Ibid.


[16] Elizabeth Boylan, interview with author, November 3, 2016.


[17] Lisa Tolin, “Local 2110 Strike Continues Into Fall,” Columbia Spectator, September 3, 1996.

[18] On Nadia Abu-El-Haj, “Alums Question Barnard Prof’s Legitimacy,” Columbia Spectator, September 10, 2007.


[19] “Professor Protests Abu El-Haj’s Claims,” Columbia Spectator, September 25, 2007; Karen Arenson, “Fracas Erupts Over Book on Mideast By a Barnard Professor Seeking Tenure,” The New York Times, September 10, 2007; Alan Finder, “Embattled Barnard Anthropologist is Awarded Tenure,” The New York Times, November 3, 2007.


[20] Barnard Faculty Meeting Minutes,          ROTC

[21] “Barnard No Change in USNWR Rankings,” Columbia Spectator, September 14, 2007; Elizabeth Boylan, interview with author, November 3, 2016.


[22]  Jennifer Fondiller, interview with author, January 4, 2017; Flora Davidson, correspondence with author, 2015; Gedale Horowitz, interview with author, March 8, 2016.


[23] Lewis Wyman, interview with author, April 15, 2015


[24] Dorothy Denburg, correspondence with author, 2017.


[25] Jennifer Fondiller, interview with author, January 4, 2017

[26] Admissions directors listing

[27] . Yojairy Sanchez, “Rejection of Prof’s Tenure Criticized,” Columbia Spectator, February 12, 1999; Lesley Sharpe, interview with author, April 15, 2015.


[28] Elizabeth Boylan, interview with author, November 3, 2016.


[29] http://blogs.cuit.columbia.edu/ram31/appendices/appendices-index-page/faculty-appendix/survival-rates-among-assistant-professors-1980-2003/


[30] Laura Kay, interview with author, March 16, 2017.


[31]. Ibid.; Elizabeth Boylan, interview with author, November 3, 2016.


[32] Ibid.


[33] http://blogs.cuit.columbia.edu/ram31/appendices/appendices-index-page/faculty-appendix/survival-rates-among-assistant-professors-1980-2003/


[34] http://blogs.cuit.columbia.edu/ram31/appendices/appendices-index-page/faculty-appendix/barnard-college-faculty-appointees-1990-2018/


[35] Rosalind Rosenberg, correspondence with author, 2018, and author’s direct knowledge.


[36] Richard Pious, correspondence with author, June 3, 2014.


[37]Laura Kay, interview with author, March 16, 2017. These included the hiring of Reshmi Mukherjee (1997) and Jenna Levin (2004) in physics/astronomy, Christian Rojas (1997) and Dina Merrer (2001) in chemistry; Brian Morton (1995), Hilary Callahan (1995), John Glendenning (1996) and Jennifer Mansfield  (2006) in biology.  http://blogs.cuit.columbia.edu/ram31/appendices/appendices-index-page/faculty-appendix/barnard-faculty-by-field-selected-years/


[38]. Senior appointments included Walter Neumann, mathematics (2000);  Anne Higonnet, Art History (2000); Janet Jakobsen, Women’s Studies (2001);  David Weiman, economics (2001); Frederick Neuhouser, Philosophy (2003);  Kim Hall, English and Africana Studies (2006);  Dusa McDuff, mathematics (2007).


[39] http://blogs.cuit.columbia.edu/ram31/appendices/appendices-index-page/students-alumnae-appendix/1660-2/


[40] Hometowns of students


[41] Pell grants

[42] Racial composition


[43] Gedale Horowitz, interview with author, March 8, 2016; Lewis Wyman, interview with author,


[44] debt for dorm

[45] endowment


[46]BC Names Nexus Donor Vagelos Family Donates $l5 Million for Completion of New Student Center,”
Columbia Daily Spectator,  April 16, 2008.


[47] Tess Bernstein, “New Dorm to Open for Barnard Profs,” Columbia Daily Spectator, December 8, 2005; Gedale Horowitz, interview with author, March 8, 2016; Elizabeth Boylan, interview with author, November 3, 2016.


[48] building upgrades

[49]  administrative continuity


[50] “Trustee Statistical Appendix”; Jolyne Caruso-Fitzgerald, interview with author, April 11, 2019.


[51] Changing board composition

[52] occupational shifts on board


[53] Judith R. Shapiro, interview with author,  June 22, 2015; Paula Rubel and Abraham Rosman, interview with author, July 8, 2014.


[54] Although reared in California, Sian Leah Beilock was  born in New York City


[55] Judith R. Shapiro, interview with author,  June 22, 2015.


[56] Robert K. Merton, “The Matthew Effect in Science” Science. Vol. 159, 1968,  56–63; Jennifer Fondiller, interview with author, January 4, 2017

[57] Judith R. Shapiro, interview with author,  June 22, 2015.