Ellen V. Futter: A Biographical Note

                                                       The Ellen V. Futter Years: First Thoughts

Biographical notes:
Born (1949) in NYC and raised on North Shore, Long Island (Port Washington)

Father (Victor) legal counsel for LI-based Grumann Aircraft; graduate of Columbia College and CU Law
Mother a public school librarian College?
One older brother?
Serious tennis player in high school
University of Wisconsin (1967-68, 68-69)
To Barnard in fall 1969 – lived on campus; English major (Class of 1971; PBK)
Student government; student rep. to trustees; followed on Dorothy Denburg ‘70
Elected to board in 1972, while first-year law student at Columbia
Married 197x?   John Shutkin
J.D. in 1974 – Associate at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy

On board during the end of chairmanship of Wallace Jones (1968-73) brief chairmanship of Eleanor Elliott (1974-76) and that of Arthur Altschul (1977-1983)

Came to board membership shortly before 1973 intercorporate agreement (McGill-Peterson) – setting financial arrangements for X-registration, use of CU library, gym; and instituting procedures for tenuring Barnard faculty through CU-administered Ad Hoc system

Board divided on question of the inevitability of merger with CU

On board at the resignation of President Peterson in 1975;
Series of deficits; too accommodating to CU?

Involved in the selection of Jacqueline Mattfeld??

Bill Golden (1974) and Dale Horowitz (1977) joined board in mid-1970s

On board when Mattfeld-Trustees relationship frays; there at her dismissal in June 1980
JAM problems with students over housing and complications resulting from enlargement of
student body; stand-off with McGill
JAM dismissal protested by some faculty who saw her as advocate for faculty salary parity

July 1980 – appointed interim/acting president for one year; year’s leave from law firm
Same month Michael I. Sovern assumes CU presidency

April 1981 – Named president by board (then age 31; and pregnant with second child)

Negotiations with CU over feasibility of CC achieving “de facto co-education” by having more Barnard students taking more courses at Columbia, for which BC would pay CC
Financial implications and what-would-come-of-the-Barnard faculty cause Barnard trustees to
resist adopting this strategy
Second child that fall
December 1981 – Columbia trustees authorize Sovern to move to make CC co-educational as soon as feasible
January 1982 – CU public announcement that CC to enroll women in fall 1983

Late January 1982 – BC/CU trustee agreement accepting co-education as fait accompli; modest modification of tenure procedures made by CU as gesture to BC

EVF report to faculty and other constituencies of new arrangements.

1. Announce sweeping curriculum review (need to distinguish BC offerings from those of CC)
Lawrence Cremin committee
2. Upgrading of admissions/recruitment functions of the College —       Chris Royer
3. Upgrade communications/publications side of College
4. Enforce Trustee-mandated reduction of faculty size through non-replacements of retired;
imposition of tenure cap [ Chuck Olton; then me] à Faculty Planning Committee
5. Address the shortage-of-on-campus housing problem by stop-gap neighborhood
leasing arrangements
Curricular Reforms:
Freshman Seminar – launched 1984
Quantitative Reasoning
Centennial Scholars Program
Theatre Program

Cooperative arrangements with CU
Athletic consortium
Urban Studies

1983 – Helene Kaplan as chair of Barnard trustees (1983-93)

1986 – Board decision to borrow from NY State Dorm Authority for an on-campus dormitory to assure all admits with on-campus housing

1988 – Launch 18-month celebration of Barnard Centenary

Fall 1988 – Centennial Hall opens; later Sulzberger Hall
Key gifts:
Underwriting of Centennial Scholars
Sulzberger Family naming gifts for new dorm
Pels gift for theater
Milbank gift for Health Sciences
Key faculty appointments:
Mary Gordon


1992 – Announced plans to leave to become head of AMNH
Barnard in much better shape than it had been in 1980….
Successful presidential transition effected in 1993

General Questions for 70s-90s:
College Finances
Mounting debt in late Peterson presidency due to 7 years of deficits (debt of $1,500,000) eating into small endowment);
Mattfeld brought budget into balance by increasing enrollments beyond point trustees
and faculty prepared to go
Year-to-year worries about swings in the cost of X-registration owed to CU
Periodic agreement-mandated resets of financial obligations with CU
Endowment policy
Little or nothing of endowment income tor growing endowment; all to the operating budget
Conservatively invested – little growth into the 1980s

1975 – Endowment at $21,000,000
1990                               $42,000,000
2000                            $150,000,000
No capital campaign in 1970s – one launched in the early 80s by EVF
Campaign launched at time of Centennial

1990: Tuition and fees as % of Total Income (less Aux. Ent.)   à 70%

Admissions Situation
Increasing applications allows College to become marginally more selective
Costs of financial aid remain higher than peers who attract wealthier applicants/admits
BC/Columbia Relations
Thawing, maybe even increasingly cordial – Sovern/Don Hood….
Long way from 1970s McGill/Fraenkel confrontations

Good working relationship between president and board leaders (Kaplan/Golden/Horowitz/Ebert)
Leaves at a time of her choosing to accept another challenging job, head of the American Museum of Natural History. Has held that position for more than 20 years.

Last updated; March 28, 2015
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