Sunday, December 10, 2006

General information

Barnard's original 1889 home was a rented brownstone at 343 Madison Avenue, where a faculty of six offered instruction to 14 students in the School of Arts, as well as to 22 "specials," who lacked the entrance requirements in Greek and so enrolled in science. In 1900, Barnard was included in the educational system of Columbia University, but it continued to be independently governed, while making available to its students the instruction, the library, and the degree of the University. Under the terms of the affiliation, Barnard students are awarded a University degree which carries both the Barnard and Columbia seals and is signed by the presidents of both institutions.

The College gets its name from Frederick A.P. Barnard (1809-89), an American educator and mathematician, who served as then-Columbia College's president from 1864 to 1889. Frederick Barnard advocated equal educational privileges for men and women (but preferably in a coeducational setting). The school's founding, however, is largely due to the determined efforts of Annie Nathan Meyer, a talented student and writer who was not satisfied with what she saw as Columbia's half-hearted, token effort to educate women.

Meyer later wrote: "I confess to a pride in having defended the affiliated college at a time when it was neither popular or understood. To me nothing in the education of women mattered so much as the creation of right standards, and this was effected by the establishment of the affiliated college. My faith was surely justified, for in 1891 I was happy to proclaim (to the Council of Women in Washington) as an established fact: 'Barnard College is Columbia.'"

Barnard College was one of the Seven Sisters founded to provide an education for women comparable to that of the Ivy League schools, which (with the exception of Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania) only admitted men for undergraduate study into the 1960s. Barnard was the sister school of Columbia College, one of the undergraduate schools of Columbia University. Columbia College began admitting women in 1983 after a decade of failed negotiations with Barnard for a merger along the lines of the one between Harvard College and Radcliffe College. Today, Barnard is the most selective of the five Seven Sisters that remain single-sex in admissions. Barnard has an independent faculty and board of trustees. Most of the school's classes and activities, however, are open to all members of Columbia University, male or female, in a reciprocal arrangement to benefit the academic and social life of the entire University community.