President Beilock and Dean Grinage announced the speakers and medalists for the Spring 2020 graduation this afternoon in an email to all Barnard students.

In the email sent out this afternoon, President Beilock and Dean Grinage announced that renowned journalist Christiane Amanpour will be delivering the keynote address and receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction in May. Ms. Amanpour is the Chief International Anchor for CNN and the host for CNN’s nightly global affairs program Amanpour which airs on PBS. She has advocated for women’s education and journalists’ rights throughout her career. She will address the graduating class at Barnard’s 2020 Commencement, which will take place in Radio City Music Hall on Monday, May 18 at 4 pm.

Barnard will also be honoring three more individuals for their contributions to academics and empowering women. The honorees include American track and field sprinter Allyson Felix; multidisciplinary writer, artist, choreographer, and writer Okwui Okpokwasili; and Professor Myriam Sarachik ’54 who teaches at City College of the City University of New York.

The full announcement can be found below:

Dear Barnard Seniors and Barnard Community, 

It is our pleasure to announce the distinguished speaker and medalists for Commencement 2020. We are honored that award-winning journalist Christiane Amanpour will deliver the keynote address and receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction. Ms. Amanpour is CNN’s chief international anchor of the network’s flagship global affairs program Amanpour, which airs as Amanpour & Company on PBS in the U.S. Ms. Amanpour has used her worldwide platform to raise awareness of key world issues, including women’s education and journalists’ rights. Her fearless reporting from conflict zones and natural disasters and her masterful interviews with world leaders have earned her every major television journalism award, including 12 Emmys and four Peabody Awards, as well as nine honorary degrees. 

Joining Ms. Amanpour will be three other medalists who also embody Barnard’s commitment to academic excellence and empowering women to pursue their passions and change the world. The 2020 medalists are Allyson Felix, an American track and field sprinter; Okwui Okpokwasili, a multidisciplinary writer, performer and choreographer; and Myriam Sarachik ’54, a physicist and professor at City College of the City University of New York.

I am grateful to the Medalist Committee for their help in selecting our honorees, as well as to those who shared their input regarding the selection of our Commencement speaker.

Read full bios of the medalists here.

Barnard’s 128th Commencement will take place on Monday, May 18, 2020, at 4:00 p.m., at Radio City Music Hall. Before the ceremony, the Class of 2020 will gather on campus for celebratory receptions with friends, family, and faculty. Bus transportation to Radio City Music Hall will be provided for all graduates, departing from Barnard at 2:15 p.m.  

The Columbia University Commencement will take place on the morning of Wednesday, May 20, 2020. More information and updates about both Commencement ceremonies will be posted over the next several weeks at

We very much look forward to celebrating the spectacular achievements of the Barnard Class of 2020 on Monday, May 18.


 Sian Leah Beilock


 Leslie Grinage

Dean of the College

Radio City Music Hall via Bwog Archives