Meet the Dean

With a vision to create the “engaged liberal arts,” Dean Ben Vinson has overseen a number of ambitious initiatives to broaden the college’s profile across the arts and sciences and sustain an upward trajectory of excellence. Since his arrival to GW in 2013, he has spearhead expansion of faculty research and student scholarship opportunities—particularly among diverse populations; integrated the new Corcoran School of the Arts and Design into the CCAS landscape and positioned it as a pivotal player in innovative arts education; and provided leadership guidance on the role of Science and Engineering Hall, a new state-of-the-art facility that fosters interdisciplinary learning and discovery across the fields of psychics, chemistry, biology, human paleobiology and engineering.

Dean Vinson is a member of the National Humanities Center’s Board of Trustees and Editor-in-Chief of The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History. His scholarship focuses on colonial Mexico, especially the African presence in Mexico. He has authored and co-authored several books and numerous articles on topics that include 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 most recent book, Before Mestizaje: The Frontiers of Race and Caste in Colonial Mexico (Cambridge University Press, 2017), explores new dimensions on the history of race and caste in Latin America.

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. 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, he held faculty positions at Penn State University and Barnard College.

Dean Vinson 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. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and 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.