Barnard Announces New President

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Barnard has announced its new president, months earlier than expected. Debora L. Spar, the Spangler Family Professor at Harvard Business School, will replace Judith Shapiro and become the 11th President of Barnard College. Anna Quindlen, BC’74, the popular writer who chairs Barnard’s Board of Trustees, made the announcement in an e-mail sent this morning to Barnard students. Spar has also been Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development at Harvard Business, and her most recent book, The Baby Business, is, according to her faculty website, about how “the acquisition of children—whether through donated eggs, rented wombs, or cross-border adoption—has become a multibillion dollar industry that has left science, law, ethics, and commerce deeply at odds.”

Congratulations to Professor Spar and the Barnard community.

Update: The NYTimes is the only city daily that cares.  Wait a few hours and The Sun will have its say.

Quindlen’s full letter after the jump:


To the members of the Barnard community:

I am delighted to report that the search committee has unanimously recommended and the Board of Trustees has unanimously approved the appointment of Debora L. Spar as the next president of Barnard College.

Professor Spar is the Spangler Family Professor and has been Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development at the Harvard Business School, two roles that made her candidacy particularly compelling for us. In one, she epitomizes the teacher-scholar model that is the linchpin of Barnard’s superb faculty. In the other, she has been a stellar administrator who has brought innovative leadership to governance issues. And despite the demands of both, she has also devoted herself to the concerns of social justice that are so important to our students, as chair of the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights and as the creator of a program to develop leaders in both the private and public sector in African nations.

As Senior Associate Dean, Professor Spar was responsible for distributing nearly $20 million in research funds by working closely with faculty on their project goals and demands. She instituted a fellowship that allows faculty members to live abroad to work on international research, and a program that brings visiting scholars from other countries to Harvard. Professor Spar also developed a new policy on family leave and led the effort to develop a part-time tenure track.

Professor Spar has been awarded the Student Association Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching and often serves as an advisor for students on research projects. She is the author of dozens of the case studies that are used in Harvard Business School classes. These reflect her expertise in both international affairs and ethical issues, and include “The Pharmaceutical Industry Responds to AIDS,” “Union Carbide’s Bhopal Plant,” and “Nike and International Labor Practices.” She frequently acts as a consultant for multinational corporations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.

Professor Spar has written four books and co-authored two. Her most recent, “The Baby Business,” was published in 2006 and explored the economic, political and social issues surrounding reproductive technologies. She has appeared on 60 Minutes, the NewsHour, the ABC Evening News, and in many newspapers and magazines. Her own articles have appeared in publications ranging from The New England Journal of Medicine to Foreign Affairs to the Review of International Political Economy.

Professor Spar received her doctorate in government from Harvard; her thesis on international commodity cartels was published as a book in 1994. She is a 1984 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is married to Miltos Catomeris, an architect whose specialty is campus buildings. They are the parents of three children.

In their meetings with Debora Spar, the members of the search committee found themselves continually impressed by her prodigious intellect, her global expertise, her ability both to build consensus and introduce innovation as an administrator, and her devotion to acting as mentor and resource for female faculty and students. During extensive referencing with colleagues, we were told many times that Barnard could find no better leader for the future. All of us agreed. While we initially thought we would conclude our work in late spring, we were able to make our decision somewhat earlier than we had expected. Over the last 14 years we have had many opportunities to admire and respect President Shapiro, and no more so than now, when she has seen this as an opportunity for a collegial exchange of information and transfer of leadership before she steps down on July 1, 2008.

When I announced this search I told all of you, “The 11th leader of the College must be someone with considerable gifts of both mind and heart, a charismatic intellectual deeply committed to the value of single-sex education for women.” I have no doubt that we have found just such a person in Debora Spar.


Anna Quindlen ’74

Chair, Board of Trustees



  1. ugggh  

    why couldn't they have picked a more attractive woman? that's what's important.

  2. Sadia  

    She wrote a really touching piece in the NYT about adopting her daughter:


    • Oh god

      So finally I get to see what one of those deeply troubled, pathetic or just plain strange women who write most of the Modern Love columns in the NY Times actually looks like.

      Modern Love columnist, thy name is Debora Spar!

  3. sigh  

    DSpar does not sound as good as JShap.

  4. priorities, please

    but the really compelling question is: is she jewish?

  5. I hereby

    dub thee: "Despair".

  6. Repulsed  

    Do not refer to this woman as PrezSpar....

    she in no way, shape, or form deserves a spinoff of PrezBo's nickname...in NO WAY!

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