As the oldest and largest school at GW, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences impacts the academic experiences of a large percentage of the student body. Therefore, the actions of Marguerite “Peg” Barratt, the school’s dean, have the possibility to reform this critical element of the academic community.
Barratt has already outlined new ideas to faculty and staff of the school and held numerous meetings with the various heads of departments. However, feedback from students seems to be missing. This new administrator should not be afraid of soliciting student opinions on often-frustrating elements within CCAS such as the advising system and the ever-exasperating General Curriculum Requirements.
As an official that is new to the GW administration, Barratt brings a unique and innovative view that will hopefully produce changes for the better in the manner that CCAS operates. Thus, as Barratt begins to navigate GW, her most valuable resource may very well be student opinion and feedback. It is important to remember that while faculty members bring valuable experience to the table, students do too.
Research has become a guiding light for recent University decisions – with good reason – and Barratt has the experience to bring an increase in research initiatives to CCAS students. While this may increase GW’s rankings among other institutions, there are basic areas within the school affecting every CCAS student that require improvement.
One such area that demands an evaluation the current standards of the GCRs. While a liberal arts education calls for a comprehensive study of the arts and sciences, the sheer volume of CCAS’s current system can be frustrating and certainly present a hindrance to an academic career. Students who wish to study a certain area in depth are sometimes prevented the opportunity because they must mind the maze of GCRs if they want to graduate on time.
CCAS must communicate effectively with smaller majors in the school and ensure, essentially, their survival. Also, CCAS is a leading force in determining University-wide initiatives such as the debate for a four-by-four class policy. Its sheer size makes the school a leader within the GW community – one that will, pending changes, be looked to for both its research and its malleability.
Yet the constant turnover of CCAS deans has left many initiatives unfinished and a void of true leadership in the school. Hopefully a good match has finally been found and this term of leadership will last longer than those of recent predecessors.