WEB UPDATE: NIH official to assume deanship of Columbian College

Updated Tuesday, April 17, 9;43 a.m.

Posted Monday, April 16, 11:30 a.m.

Peg Barratt, an official with the National Institutes of Health, will begin as dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Aug. 1, officials announced Monday.

After an almost 10-month-long process, the CCAS Dean Search Committee selected Barratt following a series of interviews and deliberations with University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman and President-elect Steven Knapp.

“It is such a great opportunity to work at a good school on its way to becoming even better,” Baratt said in an interview Monday. “I met a lot of people here during my visits and interviews . I am very excited to work with the faculty, students, staff and alumni.”

As a GW alumnus of the psychology doctoral program, Barratt has worked at Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin as a professor and department chair. She is deputy director of clinical research policy analysis and coordination at the NIH, the primary federal agency for medical research.

“She is terrific. She’s a good academic, she’s got good character skills, leadership skills, she’s a component manager, a promise of strong fundraising and the capacity to work well with others,” said Trachtenberg, who will be stepping down as University president this summer. “Overall, a good choice.”

Before working at NIH, Barratt worked for the National Science Foundation and said her experience has helped her understand how research is conducted at academic institutions.

“Dr. Barratt was the best fit for CCAS in terms of where the school is today and where we want to take it. Her credentials and experience fit what we were looking for,” Lehman said. “Compared to the other candidates she has the broadest set of experiences.”

He added, “(Although) it did not affect the decision-making process, but it is still nice to have an alumnus as the new dean.”

In a previous Hatchet article, Trachtenberg said he was looking for a candidate who approved of the four-by-four plan, a proposal to change the class structure of GW to a four-class, four-credit system. Though, Lehman noted that a favorable opinion of the plan “did not enter into the decision.”

“Personally, I wanted someone who would help the Columbian College develop its strategic plan in evolution with the strategic plan for the University,” Lehman said. The plan to improve the academic stature of GW includes a construction of a science/engineering complex and investment into an hiring expanded full-time faculty.

Barratt said she is impressed with the school, but sees room for improvement.

“I am excited by the school’s commitment to collaboration with the local community,” she said. “I feel that the Columbian College has a very thorough (strategic plan), but it needs sharpening in terms of moving research along and developing connections with alumni.”

University President-elect Steven Knapp commended the new dean’s credentials.

“Dr. Barratt exemplifies the research acumen, teaching credentials and leadership experience that we need to help advance the stature of the University as a preeminent research institution,” he said in a statement. “I am excited that she and I will be joining GW at the same time and look forward to working with her.”

The other four candidates for the dean’s post were interim dean of the school Diana Lipscomb, Thomas Baldwin from the University of Arizona, Barry Chiswick from the University of Illinois and Virginia Sapiro from the University of Wisconsin.

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