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Letters

Official News

Thank you for the article on Barnard women in politics. I would like to add another: my sister Rachel Powell Norton ’88, who won a citywide election in November 2008 to become a commissioner on the Board of Education for the San Francisco Unified School District. The support and expertise she gained from participating in Emerge, California’s political leadership training program for Democratic women, was essential to her victory. I am especially proud of her for being a model for her own two girls, ages 10 and 11, who have seen their mother become an elected official.

—Daphne Powell ’85

San Francisco, Calif.

What the Leap is About

I am honored and delighted to have been selected for a Barnard profile. I would, however, like to correct a misattribution. I do not believe that good science seeks to “prove what we already know.” I know firsthand from my 30-year work on the frontiers of empathy and emotional development that nothing engenders more surprise, new questions, and expanded horizons than good research. My career switch from science to art may resonate with others’ life transitions wherein innovation and discovery link creativity across different domains. I became dissatisfied with academia because of increasing bureaucratic constraints, not a diminishing interest in psychology. Art challenged my creative growth, demanded time to learn in different ways, and required me to explore skills left less developed during my psychology career. As in science, I endeavor to contribute and communicate well in the somewhat riskier context of art. I expect that my yearnings are not so different from those of many Barnard women who seek to complete themselves, to do jobs left undone that are felt as uniquely theirs to do. The quotation about reaching a turning point and taking a great “leap of doubt” is entirely correct. Cordially and with affection, my best wishes to you...

—Janet Strayer ’66

Vancouver, Canada

Grazie mille tutti

I was thrilled to see the cover of the Fall 2009 issue with photos of Dr. Lorch and her family! Without reading the inner pages I knew instantly that her companions were her daughters and granddaughter. The resemblance is unmistakable.

How happy I am to know she is well and has such a lovely family. Dr. Lorch was a major influence in my life, not only while at Barnard, but for years after. So many remembered lessons—life lessons as well as Italian—a remarkable woman and mentor.

Please remember me to her with great respect and affection from “La Livornese.”

—Maria Livornese Fitzgibbon ’53

Fort Lee, NJ

Another Look

I’m glad to see that some wrote in about the negative effects of having printing artistry take precedence over readability. I appreciate that you will not be using “pale colors” in the future.

May I go further and ask that you revisit the point size of the typeface (often soooo small). I also find the frequent use of sans- serif type especially hard to read, when it is so small. I’m sure there is a hidden meaning in the places you use sans-serif. . . . And putting the medium-grey screen behind the Class Notes hardly adds to the look of the page. It is somber and makes the news hard to read because of the low contrast on the page.

You put so much (good) effort into producing Barnard, and I’d like to enjoy reading it even more.

—Karen Hall Herrel ’63

San Mateo, Calif.

Legacies

A number of us have been discussing the Fall 2009 Barnard Magazine. We are sad to report that many of us share a discomfort with the most recent issue, specifically with its focus on legacy families. While women’s desire to pass the Barnard experience on to their daughters, nieces, and granddaughters is a testament to the wonderful education that Barnard offers, we feel that focusing on these stories places undue emphasis on the privileged background that so many women at Barnard are lucky to come from. We acknowledge that not all legacy families come from positions of privilege, but a diverse representation of socioeconomic backgrounds seemed somewhat lacking in this article. . . .

The overemphasis on legacy families seems to us connected to a second and more general point: the magazine’s focus, time and again, on the publicly lauded career and financial success of its alumnae. . . . We all know Barnard alumnae who work tirelessly to support others ... as social workers, teachers, nurses, criminal advocates, peace Corps volunteers, and so on. ... [T]heir work is important [and they] will likely never receive public recognition... or even make enough money to make a sizable contribution to the College. . . .

Our vision of Barnard is not of a bastion of privilege and inherited access, but of a community of creative, insightful, and hard- working women with diverse experiences and goals.... We hope to see our vision more fully represented in future issues of the magazine.

—Katherine Delaney ’01

Brookfield, WI

[co-signed by 18 Class of 2001 alumnae, three Class of 2004 alumnae, and one Class of 2003 alumna]

Editors’ response: Thank you for writing and sharing your concerns with us; we always welcome such comments as they tell us our content is being read and discussed. We do apologize if our intent was misread, but our aim with the legacy story was twofold: to show the great loyalty that Barnard inspires and the high- quality education that students here receive.

Despite so-called “generation gaps,” many young women do consider attending Barnard because a grandmother, mother, or great-aunt attended and felt the College had transformed her life for the better.

Three of the family stories involved sisters of the same generation who chose to attend the College because of the superior education they knew they would receive. (That knowledge superseded any notions of sibling rivalry.)

Please know that we strive to insure that our pages convey the great diversity Barnard encompasses, and encourages with a broad financial-aid program. Recently, articles have been written about alumnae working in difficult voluntary positions: one feature spoke about several alumnae working in Afghanistan; another article from an alumna commented about her life and work in Panama. Both were in Spring ’08. Interviews with two environmental activists were featured in Spring ’09. Additionally, several extended profiles within Class Notes have featured alumnae who are doing valuable work to benefit others without great financial reward; they include a humanitarian in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and an animal-rescue activist in Florida, among others.

Finally, we are always open to suggestions from our readers. Please feel free to get in touch with us about specific story ideas or alumnae you think might enrich the pages of Barnard.

—The Editors

The Last Hurrah

I just received Barnard Magazine for the first time—my daughter, Alison Palmintere, matriculated as a first-year at Barnard this year.

This is a great magazine, and I know my daughter’s grandmother would love being on the mailing list for this. Would it be possible for you to send her a copy of the magazine and put her on the mailing list going forward?

-Nelda Palmintere PA13

Henderson, NV

Correction:

The full name of the illustrator of the art in “Alumnae in the Political Arena” was omitted from the Fall issue. It is Shane Harrison. We regret the error.