Remember when Maggie looked like this?

Remember when Maggie looked like this?

Yesterday, Barnard students received an email from Rob Goldberg, the college’s Chief Operating Officer, stating that their beloved magnolia tree is now officially deceased. The tree was moved last fall to accommodate the construction of Barnard’s new Teaching and Learning Center, and today’s email has confirmed what we suspected earlier this summer: it “did not survive the move.”

But fear not! You haven’t heard the last of Maggie the Magnolia! Goldberg’s email also contained news of plans to “find a new magnolia to plant on the lawn for future generations to enjoy” (and cry under). A committee of Barnard faculty, staff, and students will be assembled to select a replacement magnolia, assisted by expert arborists. This replanting, as well as Maggie’s final removal (or execution), will be done “at no additional cost to Barnard.”

In addition, Goldberg wrote that Nicholas Gershberg, Barnard’s greenhouse coordinator, took cuttings from the magnolia before its move that are currently flourishing in the greenhouse. These clones will be planted somewhere on campus when they’re strong enough to blossom out in the world.

But will clones or replacement magnolias ever be enough to repair the tear in our hearts caused by Maggie’s unfortunate demise? We aren’t sure. All we can definitively say is that we will be in attendance at her memorial later this month.

Dear Barnard Community,

Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful summer. It was a busy one here in Morningside Heights, so here are a few updates to bring everybody up to speed on some key campus changes.

As you can see, we made great progress over the summer to prepare for the new teaching and learning center. We completed two important phases of the project: demolition of Lehman Hall and rock excavation. Check out the time lapse video of the demo (in 54 seconds): We appreciate the patience of those who remained on campus this summer and endured some loud days. Demolition and excavation was no small undertaking: We removed and recycled nearly 12,000 tons of waste and trucked away over 6,500 cubic yards of rubble during demolition, and we chopped more than 3,400 cubic yards of rock and dug 23 feet deep during excavation.

One bonus is that the construction project has created some interesting learning opportunities. For example, geotechnical engineers hired by Turner Construction gave a mini-lesson on rock excavation to some of our Summer Research Institute (SRI) students, and brought real samples of the kind of rock that sat beneath Lehman. The most enthusiastic observers may have been our tiniest. Students from nearby preschools stopped by often to view the construction site from various vantage points, especially during demolition, and to marvel at the large vehicles and expert machine operators.

Unfortunately, however, as we have come to know by now, the magnolia tree did not survive the move. We knew from the start that moving the tree was risky, but given its significance to the community we decided that every effort should be made to try to relocate it. Sadly, despite our seeking out the best expert care, the move did not work. Looking ahead, we are making plans to find a new magnolia to plant on the lawn for future generations to enjoy. This semester, we will assemble a small group of faculty, staff and students to help choose a mature magnolia to be planted at the site. They will be guided by arborists who can advise on the most appropriate species for our area as well as the planting schedule. This group will also help determine the best time to remove the existing tree. The removal and replanting will be done at no additional cost to Barnard.

On a more positive note, several months before we moved the magnolia, Nicholas Gershberg, our greenhouse coordinator, took cuttings from the tree that have produced a small number of clones. When these saplings are strong enough, we will find a home for them on campus.

Of course, work on the new building will proceed this academic year. Soil excavation and foundations work will continue, although it will be much less noisy than what we experienced this summer. Later in the year, we will begin to see the building rise as steel is erected on site.

As always, we will continue to keep the Barnard community up to date on the new building project. You can always find the latest at, and if you have any questions, please contact


Rob Goldberg

An older, prouder tree via February 2016 Bwog