Meet the Dean

As dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Ben Vinson III provides leadership vision and guidance to more than 40 academic departments and programs, 27 research centers and institutes, over 1,000 faculty members, and approximately 7,700 graduate and undergraduate students. With a vision to create an “engaged liberal arts,” he has overseen a number of ambitious initiatives that have helped to expand the college’s profile in both the arts and the sciences. These initiatives include creation of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design—which positions the college as a pivotal player in creative and innovative arts education—and completion of Science and Engineering Hall, a state-of-the-art facility that places world-class researchers from an array of disciplines under one roof to foster collaborative discoveries.

In addition, as leader of the university’s largest academic unit, he is playing a critical role in the success of the GW’s historic $1 billion Making History comprehensive fundraising campaign—the most ambitious in GW’s 200-year history. During his tenure, Columbian College has received record-breaking philanthropic support from alumni and donors, which will translate into advancing a number of key initiatives to assist the academic enterprise.

Elected to the National Humanities Center board of trustees in 2013, Dean Vinson’s scholarship focuses on colonial Mexico, especially the African presence in Mexico. He has authored and co-authored several books and numerous articles on the military participation of blacks in the militias, labor, free black populations in Mexico, slavery in Latin America more broadly, African American experiences in Mexico and Afro-Mexican experiences in the United States. He is currently researching the colonial Latin American caste system. 

Prior to his arrival to GW in 2013, Dean Vinson was the vice dean for centers, interdepartmental program, and graduate programs at the Johns Hopkins University’s Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. A member of the faculty since 2006, he was the Herbert Baxter Adams Professor of Latin American History and formerly directed the university’s Center for Africana Studies. Before his time at Hopkins, Vinson held faculty positions at Penn State University and Barnard College. He has been awarded fellowships from the Fulbright Commission, National Humanities Center, Social Science Research Council, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Ford, Rockefeller and Mellon foundations. Vinson earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a doctorate from Columbia University.


A Message from the Dean

Dean Vinson delivers a message to incoming Columbian College students about his commitment to their academic and personal success.