Dr. James Barta Appointed Dean of Tift College of Education


MACON – Longtime administrator and educator Dr. James Barta has been appointed dean of Mercer University's Tift College of Education, Mercer Provost Dr. Scott Davis announced today.

Dr. Barta, who most recently served as interim dean of Bemidji State University's College of Health Sciences and Human Ecology, will assume leadership of Tift College, the state's largest private preparer of teachers, on July 1.

“Dr. Barta brings a wealth of knowledge to the deanship of the Tift College of Education. He has worked in multi-campus settings with diverse student populations and curriculum – from traditional undergraduates to professionals who are changing careers to become teachers. He also brings both a national prominence in mathematics education and a service focus through his work with Teachers-2-Teachers International,” said Dr. Davis. “I would also like to thank Dr. Paige Tompkins, who has been providing dedicated service as interim dean of the College over these last 18 months.”

Dr. Barta's first faculty appointment came in September 1991 as assistant professor of early childhood education and reading at Georgia Southern University. He spent 18 years on the faculty at Utah State University, where he served as assistant professor and associate professor in the College of Education and Human Services, before becoming associate department head of regional campus and distance education. While on the faculty at USU, he took a yearlong sabbatical to accept an appointment as a visiting professor in the Office of First Nation and Inuit Education at McGill University and in the Native Access to Engineering Program at Concordia University.

In December 2010, he led the development of the American Indian Teacher Education Program at USU Eastern in the southeast region of the state. The program focused primarily on developing American Indian teachers, working with underrepresented communities to recruit students and to develop programs intended to further diversify Utah's population of teachers.

Dr. Barta served as director of that program through July 2013, before becoming the lead administrator of the College of Health Sciences and Human Ecology at Bemidji State in northwest Minnesota.

“I am more than excited to accept this new position knowing that I join a visionary leadership team, premier faculty and outstanding staff ensuring our Mercer students receive an optimal learning experience,” said Dr. Barta. “I truly sense that Mercer is perfectly poised to take education to the next level of greatness, and I am fully committed to rolling up my sleeves and joining with others to make sure this happens.”

Dr. Barta has served in numerous leadership positions on university administrations and programs, national and international mathematics organizations, and editorial panels.

He is currently vice president of Teachers-2-Teachers International, an organization of mathematics coaches who travel to rural villages throughout the world to provide professional development to local teachers. He is a member of the board of the United States National Commission on Mathematics Instruction and associate editor of the Journal of Mathematics and Culture. He recently completed a four-year term as president of the North American Study Group in Ethnomathematics.

A noted scholar in the field of ethnomathematics, the study of the relationship between mathematics and culture, Dr. Barta's research is primarily focused on the mathematics of indigenous cultures and communities. He has authored numerous scholarly publications, including one book, and has presented his work extensively at the international, national, regional and state level.

Dr. Barta earned his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction in early childhood education from the University of Oregon, his M.A. in learning disabilities/emotional behavior disorders from the University of Northern Colorado, and his B.S. in industrial science education from Colorado State University.

About the Tift College of Education

Mercer University's Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta, Savannah and the University's four Regional Academic Centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. The College offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Practitioner,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students. education.mercer.edu