WWU Professor Named One of 50 Missourians You Should Know

Dr. Barbara Garrett uses American Sign Language to communicate with a Deaf person.
Dr. Barbara Garrett uses American Sign Language to communicate with a Deaf person.

A William Woods University professor has been recognized by Ingram’s as one of 50 Missourians You Should Know. The Kansas City-based business magazine hit the newsstands Monday.

Dr. Barbara Garrett, program director and professor of American Sign Language Studies and Interpreting Program, joined the ranks of Tim Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri system; Fred Parry, publisher of Inside Columbia; and Lou Brock, Hall of Famer from the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the introduction to the 50 Missourians section, Ingram’s wrote, “Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Missouri and the people who live here … Fewer than 50 people nationwide have doctoral degrees in sign-language interpretation and instruction, and one of them is based at William Woods University in Fulton.”

Garrett built the program at WWU from an associate degree program to a bachelor’s degree program in 1993 and was department chair and assistant professor from 1993 to 1998. After working in Missouri, Colorado, California, Washington and Minnesota, she returned to William Woods in 2010 in her current position.

Barbara signing 2Upon her return, she set out to develop an online four-year interpreters’ degree program to meet the needs of interpreters trying to satisfy new national certification requirements. Since July 1, 2012, national certification for interpreters requires a four-year degree.

As a result of Garrett’s efforts, the university was approved by its accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, to provide a Bachelor of Science degree in interpretation studies in American Sign Language-English through distance education delivery.

There are around 100 associate (two-year) degree programs and about 25 BA/BS degree programs in this field nationwide. The WWU Bachelor of Science degree in interpretation studies in American Sign Language-English is one of only two online degree-completion (four-year) programs in the country and the only one from a long-established interpreting program.

Barbara signing 3Garrett earned an associate degree from Northwest University, Kirkland, Wash.; a B.A. in Deaf Ministry at World Evangelism Bible College, Baton Rouge, La.; an M.A. in Education of the Deaf from Missouri State University; and a Ph.D. in Intercultural Education from Biola University, La Mirada, Calif.

“My heart is with the Deaf,” Garrett said. “All my close friends are either Deaf or fluent in ASL. I am only where I am today because of Deaf people who have so generously allowed me to be in their community.”

She added, “My life focus has always been teaching. I am a people person and a teacher and want to see my students become more talented than me. I have presented at many workshops and conferences and been on several boards, etc., but my publications are few because I am a teacher first who is an avid reader of research.”