Madie Ward Barrett was a teacher, scholar and benefactor. She earned her B.A. in French from Alabama College for Women, M.A. and Ph.D. in comparative linguistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with an emphasis in romance linguistics and dialectology. She also studied at the University of Michigan, the Sorbonne in Paris, the Centre d’Etudes in Nice, the Centre Pedagogique in Sevres and Educentro in Madrid. She taught at UNC Greensboro, St. Anselm College, UNH and Bucknell.
At Plymouth she taught French, Spanish and French literature, trained her students in pedagogy and chaired the Foreign Language Department. She served as Dean of the College from 1981-83 and 1984-85 and was named Professor Emeriti in 1985. She won many prizes and honors and held membership in a number of honorary societies. She was noted for her dedication to students, sense of humor, quiet strength and her sensitivity to the needs of colleagues as she fulfilled her governance role.