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Remembering Dean Karen Blank

A Barnard memorial service for Karen Blank will take place at 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 10, in the James Room, Barnard Hall. All are welcome to attend.

The Barnard College community is deeply saddened by the recent death of Karen Blank, a beloved dean and member of our community for twenty years.

Karen came to Barnard as Dean of Studies in the summer of 1993, after serving as associate dean for student affairs at Columbia College. Prior to that, she was dean of freshmen at both Colgate University and Dartmouth College. Being a dean was clearly her calling and the countless students whose lives she touched can attest to how well-suited she was to guide and encourage them.

Colleagues, students, and friends of Karen are invited to share their thoughts and memories.

Karen served as our Dean of Studies for nearly two decades, until taking a medical leave in January 2012.  In this vital role, she chaired the Committee on Honors and the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing, served on the Committee on Instruction, and supervised a comprehensive study of Gen Ed requirements. Perhaps most important, both to her and the community, was the work she did in advising the Honor Board from 1993 to 2011.

She was infinitely respected by all, trusted by the faculty, and adored by the students. SGA named her the administrator of the year in 2001.  For all these years, Karen was our liaison to Columbia Athletics, which established a scholarship in her honor in December 2012. As the announcement stated, "The new award will be presented to the female student-athlete enrolled in Barnard College who exemplifies the qualities of academic success, athletic achievement, strong sporting behavior and commitment to community.” And last year, as well, Barnard established the Karen Blank Scholarship Fund “to provide financial aid for Barnard students who demonstrate commitment to bettering a community—campus, local, or international—of which they are a part, as well as commitment to their education through good academic performance.” Both of these scholarships celebrate Karen’s 28 years of service to Barnard and Columbia and will be part of her enduring legacy.

Karen was known for her absolute integrity and sense of fair play, her endless hours of hard work and innate wisdom, her understated but clever sense of humor, boundless capacity for caring, and warm smile. She was a devoted advocate for the students, a mentor to her staff, and a generous colleague to all.

If you wish to make a gift to the College in memory of Dean Blank, you may go to www.barnard.edu/gift. In the area titled Designations, there is a box labeled Restricted Funds. Please type Karen Blank Scholarship Fund in that box.