Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff –
As you know, Kathryn Kolbert, founding Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, recently retired from Barnard. Leadership changes such as this present an opportunity to take a step back, assess progress towards the Center’s goal of advancing and inspiring women, and consider opportunities, challenges and potential next steps. We felt it was an especially opportune time to gather insights from the Barnard community, given that we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Athena next year.
In March, we asked Giorgio DiMauro, Dean for International and Global Strategy, Victoria Gordon, Acting Director of the Athena Center, and Lisa Tiersten, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of History, to prepare a report on the Athena Center. Over the course of nearly four months, they reached out to the Barnard community, inviting students, faculty, alumnae, and administrators to attend listening sessions about Athena. In total, they hosted approximately 75 meetings with more than 225 participants. Using a standardized questionnaire, they solicited feedback on the impact, strengths, and weaknesses of Athena's student-facing programs, and that data was aggregated into a final report.
Overall, we received a broad range of feedback. For the most part, students we spoke to noted that Athena adds value to their education by providing programs and services that complement what happens in their majors. Students also pointed out what is working well and what aspects of Athena could be enhanced. Feedback from faculty was more nuanced and varied, and taken as a whole presented a number of thoughts and suggestions for improvements.
We want to thank everyone who participated in this important process. Your input is a crucial source of insight and guidance as we move forward to search for the next director of Athena. We will be looking for someone who embraces a broad definition of how to innovate and lead, with a track record of building entrepreneurial organizations and elevating diverse perspectives in either the private or public sphere, or both.
As a next step, we will be assembling a group of faculty, students, staff and alumnae to guide us in this transition and the hiring of a new director. We hope this group will also serve in an advisory capacity for the new director once on board. You are invited to check here for updates, volunteer to be involved, and make suggestions as this process unfolds.
We look forward to this new chapter for Athena and for Barnard, and all that is to come.
Sian Leah Beilock
Provost and Dean of the Faculty
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