Columbian College dean to resign, move to faculty

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Peg Barratt speaks at the groundbreaking of the Science and Engineering Hall. Barratt announced Friday that she will resign from her post next summer and assume a faculty position in the department of psychology. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: May 11, 2012, 5 p.m.

The dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences announced Friday that she will step down from her post starting next summer to assume a faculty position.

Peg Barratt, who received harsh feedback from faculty last month in a staff evaluation, will begin teaching in the department of psychology starting June 30, 2013, according to a memo obtained by The Hatchet sent to Columbian College department heads.

A nationwide search for her successor will begin in fall 2012, according to the memo. Barratt said she looks forward to taking a sabbatical and returning to teaching.

“After five years as dean of this great college, it was time to step down and prepare the way for my successor,” Barratt said. ” I’m pleased by what has been accomplished during my tenure in the way of curricular reform, student and faculty scholarship and support, community partnership, alumni engagement, and donor philanthropy .”

More than two-thirds of the school’s 465 full-time professors showed dissatisfaction with Barratt’s vision for the school and ability to understand discipline-specific issues in their survey responses last month.

Discontent with her leadership was critical – and widespread. Senior faculty were more likely to say she is unable to articulate a clear vision for the college and a majority who took the survey said she does not anticipate problems or seek input before establishing policies.

“Teamwork was not characterized as one of the dean’s stronger attributes,” the evaluation summary said, pointing to failure to work with faculty to develop plans, policies and an “atmosphere of trust.”

In a comments section of the evaluation, faculty zoned in on three areas of discontent: Barratt’s proposal last year to move the philosophy department to the Mount Vernon Campus, the Science and Engineering Hall and the 2010 revisions of the general education requirements, according to results from the survey obtained by The Hatchet.

“Peg Barratt has worked with great skill and dedication to build her school’s capacities, engage its alumni, develop its partnerships, and recruit ever stronger faculty and students,” University President Steven Knapp said in a release. “She has been a tireless and eloquent advocate for the school that is not only our largest and most complex school but bears the university’s original name: Columbian College.”

Barratt, an alumna, was hired away from her role as the deputy director of clinical research policy analysis and coordination at the National Institutes of Health in 2007 – the last year of former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s tenure.

Next year, she will continue to work on plans for the Science and Engineering Hall and the George Washington University Museum in addition to strengthening ties with city art institutes, including the Duke Ellington High School of the Arts, the Phillips Collection and the Textile Museum, according to the memo.

This post was clarified on May 11, 2012 to reflect the following:

In a previous version of this article, The Hatchet reported that Peg Barratt would resign next spring on June 30, 2013. Barratt will resign in the summer on June 30, 2013.

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