DeWitt, Barbara

Barbara DeWittBank of New York Mellon
First Vice President
CLASS OF 1974

Barbara DeWitt is a very busy woman. As first vice president at the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon), her time is precious, especially in light of the financial crisis in 2009. “I try to look at this crisis as a challenge,” she says. “Things are difficult for a lot of people, but my job is to promote foundations and charitable donations, and I’m optimistic that everyone in need will be assisted.”

This optimism was essential to DeWitt during her time at Washington & Jefferson College as a member of the first co-ed class. Being one of the first women at W&J

was difficult—when she arrived, she saw “co-eds go home” signs in some dormitory windows. DeWitt remembers, “They gave us a dean and a dormitory, but beyond that, W&J was pretty unprepared to greet its new female students. They just didn’t know what to expect.” But like most of the other women, DeWitt soon felt at home. She became a resident assistant, held a job as a student worker, and even performed in several plays with the W&J Student Theatre Company. DeWitt fondly remembers the cooking classes offered to female seniors. “Those classes were not academic, of course, but they were one of the few things that brought us women together as students,” she says.

After graduation, DeWitt moved to Pittsburgh and became a trainee with BNY Mellon, then Mellon Bank. She acquired a position with the bank’s investment research group learning to analyze stocks, but quickly realized that she preferred a position that involved interaction with clients from non-profit organizations. DeWitt landed her dream job when BNY Mellon created a small non-profit account. Thirty years later, DeWitt was the managing director of more than 150 accounts and $3.5 billion invested in non-profit organizations.

DeWitt encourages students to make the most of their W&J experience and to learn as much as they can. “Technical information is important,” she says. “But students are at W&J to learn to think, speak, analyze, and write. Anything else can be learned on the job.”