Barnard’s first lady has just been elected to the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs, where she will serve on the Audit, Risk, Compensation and Corporate Governance and Nominating committees. As you probably know, the financial firm, chaired by powerhouse Lloyd Blankfein, has a less than pristine reputation. Last year, the SEC went after Goldman for exploiting the collapse of the housing market, and two years before, the company came under scrutiny for doling out millions in bonuses after receiving TARP funds. We hope Spar can inspire Wall Street to be a stronger, more beautiful place, sparkling with (real) diamond-encrusted thongs (NB these are no longer sold at the Barnard store, although there is a “BLING” section.)

New York, NY – The Board of Directors of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. today announced the election of Barnard College President Debora L. Spar as an independent director of the firm, effective immediately.  She will serve on the Audit, Risk, Compensation and Corporate Governance and Nominating committees.

“Debora’s valuable and independent perspective on finance and business, emerging markets and recruitment, particularly of women, will be a tremendous asset for Goldman Sachs in the years ahead,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.

As the president of Barnard, the nation’s most selective women’s college, and a former Harvard Business School professor, Spar adds valuable perspective to the leadership of one of the world’s premier financial firms.

“I am honored to join Goldman Sachs’ board,” said Spar. “Because the firm leads the industry in so many ways, I look forward to having an impact on decisions that affect not just one organization, but all of Wall Street. Diverse approaches to leadership and decision making are critical in the current financial climate, and I’m excited to bring my experience to the table, as a woman, as an educator, and as a lifelong scholar of business and the global economy.”

A political scientist by training, Spar’s research focuses on issues of international political economy, examining how rules are established in new or emerging markets and how firms and governments together shape the evolving global economy. Prior to joining Barnard in July 2008, she had been a professor at the Harvard Business School since 1991.

Throughout her career, Spar has been a vocal proponent of women’s education and leadership. Since her arrival at Barnard, she has spearheaded a number of innovative initiatives including the founding of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the theory and practice of women’s leadership. Its mission is to investigate the ideas at the forefront of women’s leadership—what it means to lead, to motivate, to collaborate and to excel.

Also under Spar’s leadership, Barnard partnered with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYC Commission on Women’s Issues to launch Mentor it Forward, a “speed mentoring” program connecting NYC college students with executive level professional women, and NYC high school students with the college students. To date, hundreds of young women have participated. Spar also created Barnard’s Global Symposia series, bringing together each year in a different part of the world high-profile and accomplished women from business, government, media, and the arts and sciences for honest and stimulating conversations on women’s leadership.  So far symposia have taken place in Beijing, Dubai and Johannesburg. Next year’s will be held in Mumbai.

“It is incredibly important for young women to see the women ahead of them in positions of influence, where their voices are heard and valued,” said Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald ’81, chair of the Barnard Board of Trustees and CEO of The Alberleen Group. “This is an aspiration deeply rooted in Barnard’s history and mission, and Debora’s presence on Goldman’s board has great potential to help realize a more balanced and inclusive business world.”

Anna Quindlen ’74, the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and bestselling author, and former chair of the Barnard Board of Trustees, added, “I’m delighted that Debora is joining the Goldman Sachs board. Wall Street needs the expertise of women, and as the president of Barnard and a renowned academic, Debora Spar will bring fresh perspective to the table.”

Spar is the author of numerous articles and books, including most recently Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Invention, Chaos, and Wealth from the Compass to the Internet and The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a trustee of The Nightingale-Bamford School; and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

A 1984 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Spar received her doctorate in government from Harvard. During her time on the faculty of Harvard Business School, she held a number of positions including the Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration from 2005 to 2008, Director of the Division of Research and Faculty Development from 2005 to 2007, Senior Associate Dean for Recruiting from 2004 to 2005, and Chair of the Business, Government and the International Economy Unit from 1999-2004. At Harvard, she taught courses on the politics of international business, comparative capitalism and economic development. She also served as Chair of the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights, and as the creator and Chair of Making Markets Work, a program to develop leaders in both the private and public sector in African nations.