Media and lifestyle mogul Martha Stewart is asked everywhere, so we can understand if there are a few invites she might want to toss in some toile de jouy-covered wastebin now and then. But one dinner Martha never misses is Barnard College’s annual alumnae gala, which raises funds for scholarships and other educational initiatives. Stewart, class of 1963, is a proud graduate of the women’s college, one of the original Seven Sisters, that’s also part of Columbia University (yes, grads get a two-fer when it comes to degrees!).
Barnard has many famous alum–writers Erica Jong and Jhumpa Lahiri, Cynthia Nixon, Greta Gerwig, Laurie Anderson, Suzanne Vega, Ford Modeling Agency founder Eileen Ford, and the late Joan Rivers. And don’t forget that Barnard was the college that President Obama chose for a commencement address in 2012, not his alma mater, Columbia, just across the street.
So of course Martha was among the hundreds of guests at this year’s gathering, held at the Plaza and co-hosted by journalist Maria Hinojosa ’84, Cynthia Nixon ’88 and Barnard College president Debora Spar and chaired by Nina Rennert Davidson ’95 and Merryl H. Tisch ’77. Notables in the crowd included Laura Blankfein, Katherine Chenault, Catie and Donald Marron, and Ira Rennert and Nina Rennert Davidson.
The gala saluted members of the Milstein family: Cheryl Glicker Milstein ’82 and her husband, Columbia University alum Philip Milstein ’71, who were presented with a musical tribute by daughter Toby Milstein ’14 (also an honoree) and Tony award-winning Broadway composer Jeanine Tesori ’83 for the family’s generous support of a new hi-tech educational center scheduled to open in 2018. During the dinner president Spar announced that proceeds from the gala would help fund new financial aid initiatives. Considering the high cost of private colleges today, it’s not surprising to learn that a little less than half, or roughly 40%, of Barnard students receive some form of assistance.