Olé, Olé, Olé !

By Jim Cooper and Shamim Sisson

Congratulations, David! What a wonderful occasion to honor you and your remarkable career, surrounded by so many whose lives you have influenced and enriched…we are honored to be among your admirers at this milestone event.

Taking this opportunity to reminisce about our associations with you over the last 30 years, Shamim recalls the challenging work of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society review, your and Janna’s longstanding advocacy for the Women’s Center, and your always being a key faculty ally to Student Affairs. Jim remembers your steadfast interest in education, your support for teaching as a profession, and your work with experienced teachers at the Center for Liberal Arts with Hal Kolb, even when…perhaps especially when…this was above and beyond your own professional endeavors.   He also remembers your loyalty and attendance at so many of U.Va.’s athletic events…no, wait…what???

We share an appreciation for the amazing and critical leadership you provided to Semester at Sea, watching as you helped faculty members move from intransigent opposition to full participation and enthusiasm. In ways invisible to most of us, you understood and cultivated the many factions and personalities within both the Institute for Shipboard Education and the University, resulting in a memorable and successful decade under University of Virginia sponsorship. As voyagers on two fall semesters (2009 & 2012), we are eternally grateful!

The seminal leadership and unselfish commitment to service you have given the University have been informed by your inquisitive mind, being open to listening to others and to examining multiple options before making decisions. David, you have always heeded the internal compass of your convictions, beliefs, and goals to ask, “What truly matters?” Colleagues know this about you and, as a result, trust your judgments and decisions.

Beyond stellar teaching and scholarship, you are a citizen of the University in the truest form.  We have respected your service to your department, the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Faculty Senate, but also your ability to reach across traditional lines on behalf of the greater purposes of the University of Virginia. The University recognized these contributions in 2000, and we both remember your shocked expression when it was announced that you had received the Jefferson Award, so richly deserved! This impressive civic-consciousness extends to the Charlottesville/Albemarle community, with your and Janna’s tender care of the Paramount and steadfast support for Democratic candidates as only two examples.

We know that you have been honored by the Spanish government and numerous other professional recognitions making you officially an emissary of Spain and Spanish language and culture. But we have been the beneficiaries of your informal ambassadorship. Your introduction to Vanessa Guibert Heitner of Limitless Argentina opened whole new ways of travel to us and resulted in one of our most memorable adventures ever.  From insider info on great flamenco in Seville to more recent intelligence about Barcelona, you have been unfailingly generous in sharing your knowledge, experiences, and associations.

On a more personal level, we have always appreciated your quick wit, good humor, genuine interest in others, and conversation that never lags.  You and Janna are a brilliant team and we know that this new chapter will continue to be rich and filled with as exciting endeavors as ever…maybe now just a bit more on the schedule you two can choose. We look forward to sharing many fun times in the years to come. But just now, savor this beautiful time of celebration for you and your extraordinary life’s work.

With every best wish, Jim and Shamim