As Marguerite “Peg” Barratt eases her way into her new role as dean of the Columbian College, she said she wants to listen to the diverse wishes of professors in her college and then to begin working on increasing undergraduate research and curricular reform.
Barratt said she wants more undergraduates to do research, both for their own benefit and for the benefit of the University. University President Steven Knapp has also said that he wants to increase the GW’s emphasis on research.
Barratt, who was formerly a deputy director at the National Institutes of Health, is currently on her second round of meetings with all of the department chairs,and has been meeting with officials throughout the University.
“I’m still trying to figure this place out,” Barratt said. “I’ve met with Knapp. I think we’re really well-aligned.”
Columbian College professors said they also are in favor of research that will move GW to the higher tiers in college rankings.
“(Barratt’s) focus on undergraduate research will be good for (CCAS),” said Reza Modarres, chair of the statistics department. “The more undergraduates that do research, the more we will go up the ranks of research universities, which is our goal.”
Thom Brown, chair of the department of fine arts and art history, has already had a few meetings with Barratt this year. He said she has discussed many broad goals and spent time listening to the goals of the individual department chairs.
“I think it bodes well that she wants to hear about our goals,” Brown said. “I found her to be very open and asking a lot of questions.”
Barratt said the Columbian College will be spending this year focusing on curriculum reform.
“We will be looking at the (General Course Requirements) and discussing those and curriculum reform at the department level,” Barratt said.
Tyler Anbinder, chair of the history department, said a curriculum review would be “welcome.”
“I think that CCAS students have far too many requirements. I hope that the result of the review is a more streamlined set of requirements,” he said.
Anbinder said during his 13 years at GW, he has seen five or six different CCAS deans or interim deans come through the school. He said his expectation with the new dean is simply that she stays for a while.
“The most important thing about the addition of Dean Barratt that I am hoping for is some stability and predictability in the leadership of the Columbian College,” he said.
But for now, he just wants her to get settled and learn about how things work at GW.
Anbinder said, “Right now we need the new dean to learn the lay of the land at GW so she can effectively lead the college.”