Like spotting a gazelle on the plains of Africa, one Bwogger recently ran into former Barnard President Deborah Spar. And now, the moment it happened in breathtaking detail.
At a recent engagement, I had the pleasure of running into DSpar, a figure as pivotal to Barnard’s history as the late magnolia tree. As she strutted down the block, her assistant in tow, pedestrians (including myself) were entranced by her aura. Could I stop this poised gazelle in her tracks? She sauntered away as quickly as she had appeared like a rare bird alerted to the gaze of its audience. Like seeing an ex-flame, I found myself perplexed: Do I pretend like I’m doing great without her? Or do I still strive for her approval? To be honest, my reaction was to simply think to myself, ‘I love her.
Whether you like her or not is a moot point–she’s the epitome of an icon, in that she represents a lioness that signifies both effortless confidence and a meticulously curated image. When she walks, you can almost see the ambition seeping out of her manicured hands. Though I had experienced this demeanor in a climate of aptly liberated millennial, DSpar was now in her natural environment. Surrounded by a group she described as her elite peers that run in her New York City social circle, this lioness was emboldened by her captivated entourage. This was not my DSpar who had served me french toast sticks in Diana, but instead an Alpha in a herd of her own species.
Few lives are more controversial on Barnard’s campus than DSpar. From the magnolia tree incident to her corporate values to her abrupt departure last year, there is not much love lost between 116th street and her snazzy new Lincoln Center cove. That being said, her stature on the social food chain of New York allows her to ignore her foes and return to climbing and constructing new corporate ladders. Like a mother’s relationship with her cubs, you can’t really tell if she’s preparing her young pride for the world or standing in their way. Hearing the way she bounced around campus anecdotes and tales of female empowerment was staunchly contrasted by the parts of the student body believed she used Barnard as a patch on her feminist achievement jacket.
After months of DSpar’s hibernation a few miles south of her former stomping ground that we call home, a spotting of her was a rush, and yet oddly familiar, considering the sting of her abandonment. We’ve adjusted to our new institutional pecking order, and she undoubtedly has established her reign over her new animal kingdom. Despite this, and with our watering holes now separated by forty blocks and about ten social class levels, this elusive sighting brought me back to my time as a young collegiate cub in DSpar’s Morningside Heights realm.