Academics | Faculty | Response Magazine

Margaret Watkins is new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

WHAT’S THE VALUE in a liberal arts degree?

Margaret Watkins is happy to address this frequently asked question.

“This generation of students will change careers many times, so if you think of education as training for a single career, you are narrowing your possibilities for the future,” said Watkins, the new dean of Seattle Pacific University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “A liberal arts degree will teach you how to think and how to learn, and that is what students need — to learn how to be resilient.”

Watkins oversees the largest academic unit at SPU, with 16 different disciplines in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and STEM — as well as the MFA in Creative Writing, the Honors Program, and undergraduate general education.

For the past 10 years, the college had separate deans leading two divisions: the Division of Arts and Humanities and the Division of STEM and Social Sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences is unified again under Watkins, who started her new role in July 2021.

As she leads the department and welcomes new students, Watkins is aware of one of the biggest challenges facing universities today. “The system of higher education was created by the privileged for the privileged, and that is not the community we are serving right now,” she said. “There has not been enough thinking on how that will work; how we will adapt and change to serve the community in the 21st century.”

Watkins comes to SPU from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where she served as dean of the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Having never lived farther west than Texas, she is enjoying her new home. “My husband and I love seafood. We love exploring all the natural beauty and urban development here. Coming to Seattle was a big draw for us.”

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