Home Home Home About Us Home About Us About Us About Us /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html About Us About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html
Home About Us About Us /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html
About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html










Camps & Sports


Children’s Corner

Collected Features


Cover Stories

Distance Learning


Famous Interviews


Medical Update

Metro Beat

Movies & Theater


Music, Art & Dance

Special Education

Spotlight On Schools

Teachers of the Month


















New York City
March 2002

Judith Shapiro, President Barnard College

Factors in Career Choice & Pivotal Point: “I knew about my vocation as a teacher early,” President Shapiro says. “My mother was a teacher and as a child I played school. Remember, I went to college in the early 60s. Women were not thinking as broadly about their choices. I didn’t consider being a captain of industry, for example.

“As a scholar, I think I’m more of an intellectual than a specialist. It’s hard for me to specialize. I think I’ve chosen my career moves as ways of moving away from doing just that. I’d much rather broaden my experience.”

Perhaps it was that fateful lunch with Bryn Mawr’s President Pat McPherson, now a vice-president at the Mellon Foundation, that propelled Dr. Shapiro into a career path that ultimately led her to the presidency of Barnard College. “It’s not so much that I chose my particular career as it chose me,” she recalls. “Pat McPherson asked me to be acting dean of the undergraduate college at Bryn Mawr. It was a pivotal moment. At the time, I was a senior faculty member and chairman of the anthropology department. It was a low-risk way to try being a college administrator and it was not a difficult decision to make.”

Achievements: After serving as acting dean for a year, Dr. Shapiro went on to become the college’s provost for 8 years. Then, in 1994, she was selected to head Barnard College, the women’s college affiliated with Columbia University.

It was the latest leap in the career of the former history major at Brandeis University who earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia and was the first female anthropologist at the University of Chicago. Her training remains a powerful influence. “There’s a way in which, when you’re an anthropologist, you’re always an anthropologist,” she reflects. “It’s a way of looking at the world.”

Among her proudest achievements, says Shapiro, “is the presidency of Barnard. It’s the high point of my professional life. When I came here, it was a very specific move to a specific place. Ideally, a president is a living embodiment of the institution and its values.” Among her accomplishments at Barnard, Shapiro takes special pride in “maintaining and building on Barnard’s relationship with Columbia, establishing relationships with the faculty, and developing the college financially.”

Obstacles: In addition to the obstacles faced by anyone as successful as Dr. Shapiro, gender was also a factor. “I had no women among the faculty who taught me,” she concedes. “At Chicago, I was young, insecure, and not established. I hadn’t finished my dissertation. Everybody in my department was a male, senior faculty member. It was intimidating.”

Advice: Based on her experiences, Dr. Shapiro would urge young women to “understand that life doesn’t follow a straight path; that it’s not mapped out. I would like them to think about how long they’ll live, and realize that they don’t have to cram their entire life into the next several years. We’re front-loading our lives just as our lives are getting longer. I would hope they would look for the best way to combine their career and family goals.”

Mentors: Dr. Shapiro credits her mother with being a powerful influence and mentor in her life. “My mother worked. She got dressed nicely to go to work, not just for her husband. Many feminists are conflicted about their mothers and may see them as victims. I’ve always felt support and drawn inspiration from my mother.” Other strong influences include Pat McPherson, Herbert Marcuse and other faculty at Brandeis, who gave Dr. Shapiro “very positive images of intellectuals. I always had warm feelings about the academic world.”

Goals: Dr. Shapiro is looking forward to remaining at Barnard College for the next few years, and anticipates an active and involved retirement in which she’ll travel widely, spend time with close friends and family, and hopes to work with various non-profit organizations, particularly National Public Radio.


Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.