By Joe Gbodai
“For years, we drove from Maryland here on the weekend,” says Dr. Margaret Bartow, DCCC’s new provost. “My husband and I loved this area. It’s one of our favorite places to visit.”
That being said, it’s no surprise that at the end of the spring 2014 semester, when Provost Dr. Virginia Carter retired after a decade of service, Bartow would seize this opportunity to broaden her role as an academic administrator and take on a new position in an area that she loves.
Bartow is no stranger to community colleges. She began her teaching career at a community college in her native state of Massachusetts. Nevertheless, she and Carter paired up during her first few weeks as the provost.
“Dr. Carter and I place a high priority on stability,” Bartow says. “It was very helpful that we had an overlap to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. You wouldn’t want any balls to drop when somebody new comes.”
Bartow has worked in education since earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development from Simmons College in Boston. After earning a Master of Education at Harvard University, she earned her doctorate in higher education from the University of Maryland, College Park.
According to a DCCC news release, Bartow has nearly 10 years experience as a chief academic officer at the community college level.
Before becoming provost at DCCC, Bartow served as executive vice president and provost at Lakeland Community College in Ohio for almost two years, where she oversaw 130 full-time faculty members, more than 100 support staff, and an operating budget of more than $30 million.
Despite serving in administration for over a decade, Bartow’s says that her journey of becoming an administrator was a gradual process.
“Prior to her work at Lakeland, and positions at Frederick and Lord Fairfax community colleges, Bartow was associate dean of Academic Affairs at Corning Community College in New York; a professor and department chair of Early Childhood Education at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland; director of Instructional Programs for the Maryland State Board of Community Colleges; associate executive director for the Maryland State Council on Vocational- Technical Education; and director of Institutional Planning for the University of
Maryland University College,” according to the news release.
Bartow makes it clear that as a result of her teaching background, she feels very connected to the classroom and promises to never leave it behind.
“Being an administrator is similar to teaching on a broader scale,” she says.“I think that being able to impact the next generation is the noblest calling anybody can have.”
During her leadership at Lakeland, Bartow “led initiatives to increase student success and completion rates, assess learning outcomes, and continued the college’s Academic Quality Improvement Program accreditation commitments,” according to the news release.
When Bartow realized DCCC’s provost was retiring, she saw another opportunity to do what she loves, she says.
“DCCC is much larger than my former institution,” she says. “I believe it is a great opportunity and a step up for me,” adding that she isn’t naïve to the threats community colleges face today.
“I’m concerned about the economy and how it’s impacting our students,” Bartow says. “There are more challenges that our students are facing. I think that there are a lot of opportunities. Although more funding would be helpful, there’s a lot we can do and are doing with the funds we do have.”
Bartow says she has plans to put more emphasis on distance education, starting spring 2015. These goals will be in collaboration with the new associate provost, Eric Wellington, who’s currently the dean of business and computer information systems, Bartow explains.
“I think computers are affecting every walk of life,” she says. “We’ve noticed that distance enrollment has been increasing steadily. What we’re going to do will be consistent with quality. It’s what DCCC is known for. The goal is to make the services more accessible.”
Bartow adds she is confident and optimistic that her years of experience and ability to bring skills learned from experiences at former institutions will aid her as she strives to carry on the academic integrity and all-around excellence of the college.
“We want to assist students with getting into an engaging program early on,” Bartow says. “We’re working to impact more people within the community and do it without diluting our standards. We’re not like other colleges out there. We’re saying NO to lowering our standards. A DCCC education [means] high quality everywhere.”