CCAS Meet Dean Ben Vinson Hero

Meet the Dean


"Our commitment is driven by our students who want to find solutions to the challenges we face using a rich, interlaced education that is not limited by conventional boundaries. This is what defines us."

Ben Vinson III

Dean, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences


A Message from Dean Ben Vinson

 

As we look toward Columbian College’s Bicentennial in 2021, we celebrate the pride, passion and achievement of all who shared the vision of George Washington to create an extraordinary institution of higher learning in the heart of our nation’s capital. It is that vision, and our notable 200-year history, that will continue to guide us as we move into our third century.

Today, Columbian College exemplifies what I call the engaged liberal arts, where our classic disciplines intersect with our professional degrees to inform each other and where students marry the world of theory to the realm of practice. We are the home of value-added education, emboldening our students to be citizen leaders who are ready to tackle whatever the 21st century may bring with the highest ethical and moral compass that an education can provide.

The engaged liberal arts is most evident in our classrooms and state-of-the-art labs, where scholars are working with students to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. But it is also our unique connections—across the nation’s capital through internships and professional ties, and across the world through our research and teaching—that make Columbian College such a special place to grow and to engage in the global dialogue.

Our commitment is driven by our students who want to find solutions to the challenges we face using a rich, interlaced education that is not limited by conventional boundaries. This is what defines us; it is what we call the engaged liberal arts. It is a learning experience like none other.

Ben Vinson III
Dean, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

 


Biography

Dean Ben Vinson Columbian College

 

With a vision to create the “engaged liberal arts,” Dean Ben Vinson has overseen a number of ambitious initiatives that have helped to expand the college’s profile across the arts and sciences. These initiatives include expansion of faculty research and student scholarship opportunities, particularly among diverse populations; 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 fosters collaborative, interdisciplinary discoveries between world-class researchers, faculty and students.

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 a variety of topics including slavery in Latin America, the military participation of blacks in militias, free black populations in Mexico, African American experiences in Mexico and Afro-Mexican experiences in the United States. His latest book, Before Mestizaje: The Frontiers of Race and Caste in Colonial Mexico, examines the extreme caste groups of colonial Mexico.

Prior to his arrival at 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. As a member of the Hopkins’ faculty since 2006, he was the Herbert Baxter Adams Professor of Latin American History and a former director of the university’s Center for Africana Studies. Before his tenure at Johns Hopkins, Dean 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, the 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.

 


Engaging the Community

  • Dean Vinson at the "Legacy & contributions of People of African Descent" event

    At the "Legacy & contributions of People of African Descent" event, Dean Vinson served as the moderator for the discussion panel. Many students & community members attended.

  • Dean Vinson speaking at the CCAS Alumni Reception during Colonials Weekend

    Dean Vinson spoke to alumniĀ at the CCAS Alumni Reception during Colonials Weekend 2017.

  • Dean Vinson with guests at the greenhouse dedication.

    Dean Vinson toured the new Wilbur V. Harlan Greenhouse during the dedication ceremony