See you next fall, President Beilock!

After a seven-month search, Barnard has a new president. Sian Leah Beilock, a former professor of Psychology and Executive Vice Provost at University of Chicago who focused on women’s success in STEM fields and performance under pressure in sports, will serve as Barnard’s eighth President beginning this fall. Beilock has won numerous accolades, including the 2017 Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences, has published two books and over 100 publications, and has worked in education and public policy on a national level.

“Having spent my career investigating how people can perform at their best, I am thrilled at the prospect of leading a college focused on ensuring women have the tools to succeed in any path they choose,” Beilock said.

Barnard’s former president Debora Spar announced her resignation last November, and it came as a shock to many students. However, the announcement also inspired hope among students for a president more representative of the student body. Incoming President Beilock definitely falls outside of the corporate feminist classification that many students criticized Spar for, hailing from a very academic background. Still, many were hoping to see a woman of color as Barnard’s president. Maybe she’s at least intersectional? She’s also participated in a Reddit AMA, so she’s in with the millennials! See you next fall, President Beilock!

Read the full email from Barnard below:

Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

I am delighted to share the news that Sian Leah Beilock will become the 8th president of Barnard College on July 1, 2017. Her broad academic and administrative responsibilities at the University of Chicago, her scholarly expertise in helping students learn at their best, and her success in bridging liberal arts disciplines within an urban context will make her an exceptional leader for Barnard. The official announcement may be found on the Barnard website:

As executive vice provost and an officer of the University of Chicago, Sian has had a large portfolio aimed at advancing the University’s research and educational mission. In 2015, she created and launched UChicagoGRAD, a university-wide initiative designed to ensure that Chicago’s 9,000-plus graduate students and postdocs develop the skills necessary to be leaders in academia, government, industry and the nonprofit sector. In this role, she oversees integrative efforts to bridge urban scholarship, practice and engagement via meaningful collaborations, and innovative programming with Chicago’s Southside neighborhoods and cities around the world. Sian is also responsible for major academic centers ranging from the university libraries to the University of Chicago Press, academic space planning and allocation, and the development and implementation of several major building projects.

As the Stella M. Rowley Professor in the Department of Psychology, Sian has focused her research specifically on girls’ and women’s success in math and science and how performance anxiety can either be exacerbated or alleviated by teachers, parents and peers. She works to understand the brain and body factors that influence learning and performance, and how simple psychological strategies can be used to ensure success, from test taking and public speaking to athletics.

Additionally, Sian has authored two books, the critically acclaimed Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To (2010) and How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel (2015), and more than 100 publications. She has received funding from the National Science Foundation (including a CAREER award), the Department of Education, and several foundations. She also works extensively with educators and those involved in public policy, including serving on a National Research Council committee on decision-making and stress.

Among her many awards, Sian recently won the 2017 Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Kinesiology. She received a Bachelor of Science in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego, and doctorates of philosophy in both kinesiology and psychology from Michigan State University.

On behalf of the Board and the Presidential Search Committee, we are thrilled that Sian Beilock will be the College’s 8th President. I hope you all will join me in welcoming her to Barnard.


Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald ’81
Barnard College Board of Trustees

Image courtesy of University of Chicago