President Beilock has announced the creation of a new health and wellness center for the Barnard community, the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being, in an email shared this afternoon.

Serving as a central, overarching hub for Barnard’s multiple wellness initiatives, the Francine LeFrak center will boast a fitness center, dance studios, and state-of-the-art spaces dedicated to hosting well-being programming that will include topics such as financial fluency and wellness. The center, supported by an anchor gift provided by Francine A. LeFrak, will physically occupy the renovated spaces on Barnard Hall’s first floor.

In regard to timeline, Barnard plans to begin the demolition and design process in early 2021, with construction commencing in January 2022 and the building formally opening in 2023.

The creation of the Francine LeFrak center follows Barnard’s 2019 partnership with the JED Foundation, a nonprofit that protects mental health in young adults and teens by partnering with schools to strengthen their wellness and mental health programs. The JED Foundation made several recommendations to Barnard, including “adopting a coordinated, centralized approach to promoting physical and mental health,” “offering greater opportunities for social connectedness across the entire Barnard community,” and “ensuring equity of access to services for all.” Beilock noted that both the creation of the Francine LeFrak center and other ongoing initiatives, such as Feel Well, Do Well @ Barnard, serve as part of Barnard’s ongoing commitment to address these concerns.

The full announcement email is included below.

Dear Barnard Community,

I am writing to share some exciting news with you, which I was delighted to formally announce at yesterday’s Health and Well-Being at Barnard and Beyond event. Thanks to an anchor gift from the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation, we will move forward with the creation of a new health and wellness center.

The Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being, which will occupy renovated spaces on the first floor of Barnard Hall, will physically and programmatically unite our many wellness initiatives. I hope you will join me in celebrating this exciting announcement and in thanking the lead supporter of the Francine LeFrak Center, Francine A. LeFrak, who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to empowering women and girls. Three years ago, Barnard College engaged The JED Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advising college and school campuses on how best to protect students’ mental health, to conduct a formal assessment of our health and wellness programs. The Foundation concluded that Barnard was doing many things well but that there was an opportunity to develop ways for the entire campus community to take responsibility for health and wellness. This included: 1) adopting a coordinated, centralized approach to promoting physical and mental health; 2) offering greater opportunities for social connectedness across the entire Barnard community; and 3) ensuring equity of access to services for all.

We took the Foundation’s recommendations to heart, and last September, Barnard launched Feel Well, Do Well @ Barnard, a campus-wide health and wellness initiative that works in active collaboration with offices and departments throughout the College to emphasize the important role that each member of the Barnard community plays in fostering well-being across our community. We are proud of — and astounded by — everything that this initiative has accomplished during its inaugural year, a year that has demanded so much from our students and community. In turn, the ongoing pandemic and its effects continue to emphasize the importance of comprehensive, accessible care and education that promotes campus-wide health and lifelong well-being skills.

There is no better time to create the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being, which will provide both a centralized hub and an umbrella organization for our many wellness initiatives, including Feel Well, Do Well @ Barnard. The Francine LeFrak Center will include state-of-the-art spaces for well-being programming, including financial fluency and wellness initiatives, a fitness center, and dance spaces. By uniting initiatives that address the many dimensions of student health and wellness — financial, physical, and mental — we can offer our students holistic support and self-care education throughout their time at Barnard, as well as create a campus-wide culture of care.

Our demolition and design phase will begin in early 2021, and we anticipate that construction will begin in January 2022. We hope to formally open the new facility to our Barnard community in 2023. We are thrilled by this opportunity to permanently strengthen Barnard’s wellness-related offerings, and we hope that the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being can serve as a model within higher education and among institutions dedicated to helping women achieve their potential. This is a tremendous development that will benefit our entire community, including faculty, staff, alumnae, and generations of Barnard students, and I look forward to sharing more with you as the project unfolds.


Sian Leah Beilock, President

Edit October 29, 2020, 3:15 PM: References to the LeFrak Center have been clarified to the Francine LeFrak Center, to distinguish the new wellness-oriented Francine LeFrak center from the LeFrak Center opened in 2016.

Photo via Bwog archives