Tribute to David T. Gies

By Blake D. Morant
As a graduate of the University in the ‘70s, I never had the privilege and pleasure of studying Spanish with the incomparable David Gies. I did, however, meet him for the first time at the Dulles international Airport in the early ‘90s, when I took my wife to meet him and a group of teachers bound for one of his programs in Spain. Though my conversational Spanish was rudimentary, David graciously engaged me in such a manner, as I felt both comfortable and surprisingly credible. Right away I knew what a special teacher he must have been.

Over 20 years later, I, along with my wife Paulette, have had the privilege of becoming friends with him and his dear wife, Janna. As an educator myself, I appreciate the importance of teachers who possess academic competence as well empathy for the students you impact. After all, students constitute a teacher’s lasting legacy. That being the case, David remains an icon in higher education. He has educated a legion of individuals who have taken on the charge to advance not only Spanish, but also the love of learning that comes from both doctrine and experience. Little did he know that his example has been a wonderful motivator for me as a law professor.

David’s “shoes,” euphemistically of course, will be difficult to fill. He leaves a void at a time when higher education needs more teachers who possess his degree of commitment, intellect, and humanitarianism. Hopefully that legion of former students, together with individuals who, like me, took inspiration from his career, will step forward to fill that void.

I wish him well as he advances to this next chapter and extend my greatest appreciation for inspiring so many. His legacy will be everlasting.

Blake D. Morant
Dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law
The George Washington University Law School