David T. Gies – What a CADSS!

By Reginald H. Garrett

Let me add my voice to the praise coming to David. David and I became friends through common interest in the Semester at Sea (SAS) program. David was, if not the first, certainly the most enthusiastic, faculty advocate for this sea-borne study abroad program when it came to the University of Virginia. I, on the other hand, was an outspoken skeptic. Then, in December, 2006, Provost Gene Block, after repeated entreaties, persuaded me to visit the SAS ship, the MV Explorer, in Nassau, the Bahamas, in early 2007. I confess to being susceptible to any sort of nautical adventure, particularly in the tropics in the dead of winter. I was immediately smitten with the ship and the notion that shipboard education could resurrect Jefferson’s ideal of an Academical Village where students and faculty live and learn together. Meantime,
David was making concrete steps to elevate awareness about the academic potentials SAS offers. One of his most significant contributions was the establishment of an informal committee consisting of past, present and future SAS Academic Deans, which were, by UVA’s agreement with the Institute of Shipboard Education, drawn from UVA faculty. Relying on the silly wit in which he sometimes revels, he dubbed this committee CADSS (Committee of Academic Deans for Semester at Sea). CADSS was an unsanctioned but very effective body that mentored new deans, partnered with ISE, reviewed and revised the SAS curriculum, and instilled a new sense of comradery across
the Grounds. As successive Academic Deans recruited instructors for semester-long voyages from the UVA faculty ranks, many boarded the ship as skeptics and returned as apostles. Of course, David was the perennial chair of CADSS, but of course, he was always the best choice. My interactions with David led to a friendship I cherish. Among many memorable moments was flying with David and Janna from Lima to Cuzco and on to Machu Picchu by train. I send them warmest wishes as they begin their retirement years. Knowing them, I know their path will be bound by the sentiment of  Constantine P. Cavalfy’s poem Ithaca, an homage to Homer’s Odessey — May there still be many a summer morning when, with such pleasure, such joy, you come into harbors seen for the first time… Hopefully, your voyage will last for years, so that you are (really, really) old by the time you reach the island, even wealthier in heart and mind with all you have newly gained on the way.
Reginald H. Garrett
Emeritus Professor of Biology