Barnard Receives $55 Million Donation From Philanthropists To Create A Hub For Women In STEM

Barnard College is the recipient of a $55 million gift from Diana T. Vagelos ’55 and Dr. P. Roy Vagelos to fund the renovation and expansion of Altschul Hall, home to the College’s principal science facilities.

The gift, more than double the size of any previous single donation in its history, will secure the College’s eminence in the field and further elevate it as a leader in preparing young women and underrepresented voices for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The new name of the building is the Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Center.

The Center is designed to support Barnard’s inclusive approach to education, bringing together a broad spectrum of intellectual pursuits and the full diversity of the community, with almost 40% of the College’s underrepresented minority students majoring in STEM.

The Center will have the labs and spaces to accommodate the Summer Research Institute (SRI), Barnard’s signature STEM program, which last year supported almost 10% of its student body.

Two of Barnard’s newest programs—Neuroscience and Behavior, and Computer Science (CS), which are already among the top 10 selected majors—will also benefit from increased spaces in the Center.

Over the past three decades, the Vageloses has supported a range of campus facilities and initiatives, including gifts to make possible the Diana Center, the alumnae center, the computer science center, an endowed professorship, and an incredibly successful financial aid matching program.


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Diana Vagelos has also served on Barnard’s Board of Trustees since 2003, and her leadership and guidance have proved invaluable to the College.

“We are incredibly grateful to Diana and Roy,” said President Sian Leah Beilock. “This gift adds to their legacy of impacting Barnard and I couldn’t think of better thought partners in our goal of diversifying thought leadership in STEM, along with gifts to make possible the Diana Center, the alumnae center, the computational science center, an endowed professorship, and an incredibly successful financial aid matching program.”

The Vageloses expressed excitement about the future of STEM at Barnard.

“We are so pleased to support this renovation and are excited to see how the campus will be transformed with this newly designed building as a fresh gateway,” said Diana. “As philanthropists, Roy and I really believe in giving to initiatives and organizations that further science, technology, and medicine. We are enormously confident in the College’s vision for the future and proud to support STEM at Barnard.”

To date, the College has put more than $220 million towards the $240 million renovations and $35 million for programming from over 100 impactful donors.

Lead donors to the Vagelos Science Center renovation also include the family of Daphne Recanati Kaplan and Thomas S. Kaplan P’24 and Cheryl Glicker Milstein ’82 and Philip Milstein CC ’71.

A gift toward renovations, and another to establish the Alexander Science Lecture Series, has been pledged by the Norman E. Alexander Family G Foundation, Gail Alexander Binderman ’62, president.



“We are deeply honored by the exceptional generosity of Diana and Roy,” said Cheryl Milstein, who serves as chair of the Barnard Board of Trustees. “Their gift will allow us to dramatically increase the space available to faculty and student scientists—ultimately doubling the building’s current space—and will facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration.”

The updated and expanded spaces will send a clear message regarding the College’s work and its place in the world.

The Center’s prominent entrance and open, inviting areas will create an environment that fosters collaboration, encourages interactions with our neighbors in Harlem and Morningside Heights, and showcases key programs, including STEAM in the City, the Science Pathways Scholars Program, and more.

State-of-the-art science facilities and training by world-renowned researchers will enable Barnard students to take full advantage of New York City’s vast network of entrepreneurs and innovators as they prepare for exciting careers in STEM.

The College is also announcing the launch of the Science Center Matching Campaign. Through the generous support of the Vagelos and Milstein families, the campaign offers the opportunity for donors to double the impact of their gift in support of the Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Center renovation.

As a leader in STEM education for women:

  • Barnard is ranked #9 out of all colleges and universities in the country that graduate women (per capita of science graduates) who go on to earn doctoral degrees in STEM-related fields.
  • 10% of each Barnard graduating class enroll in medical school.
  • Barnard is one of the only colleges/universities in the country where every student, STEM and non-STEM, will take a course on engaging critically with data—quantitative, qualitative, and spatial.
  • 34% of Barnard’s Class of 2021 were STEM majors, compared with 26% nationally.
  • 36% of the College’s Class of 2021 underrepresented minority (Black, Latinx, Indigenous) students were STEM majors, compared with 23% nationally.
  • 84% of recent Summer Research Institute participants are pursuing an advanced degree or are working in a STEM field.

Find out more information about Philanthropy here.

Photo credit: 1) Donors Roy and Diana Vagelos. 2) Barnard College Gates. 3) Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Center rendering.

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