News from the Helm
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Meet the Fall 2019 Executive and Academic Dean
Every voyage, the Academic Dean and Executive Dean, together, lead Semester at Sea’s shipboard community of students, faculty, staff, and Lifelong Learners. The Fall 2019 Executive and Academic Dean—Dr. John Tymitz and Dr. Paul Doherty, respectively—are leading the MV World Odyssey through the Canals and the Atlantic. John, who first sailed in 1972, has sailed many time with Semester at Sea in various roles, and previously served as President/CEO of ISE from 1987 to 2008. Paul is sailing for the second time after serving as a faculty member aboard the Fall 2017 Voyage.
Get to know the Fall 2019 Leadership team below!
Can you describe your roles for us? What does your day-to-day look like? What do you anticipate your favorite part of the job will be?
John: My role is to oversee all aspects of the voyage, with the number one priority being the safety and security of everyone on board. I work daily with the Captain, his officers and the crew as they handle all aspects of the ship operations—from the hotel department to the Engineers that manage the massive engines that power the vessel safely from one port to another. I also work with the Academic Dean to ensure we are offering a high quality academic program. My final responsibility and joy is meeting and hearing the stories of the students on SAS. Why they chose the program and what they hope to learn during the voyage.
Paul: As the Academic Dean, I’m responsible for hiring all the faculty and coordinating the curriculum and field programs for faculty and students, so I have a lot of communication with those two groups and I love that part of my job. At the same time, I’m also a faculty member onboard, so I’ll be teaching a class called Conservation of Marine Megafauna with a Field Program in the Galapagos. It’s the perfect program for this kind of voyage.
How is a shipboard learning community like Semester at Sea different from other academic communities, such as the traditional college campus?
John: The main and major difference is that each voyage becomes a community of Faculty, Staff and of course the students. The bond is greater because each day we interact with each other at meals, classes, social activities and especially in sharing the joys of what we experience in the many cities and countries we will visit during our 106-day voyage.
Paul: Semester at sea is different from traditional college campuses in that you develop a very strong living-learning community, with the staff and students living together in very tight quarters. The field stations where I work at CSU are actually very similar though, in that you have students and staff living in an isolated community with each other 24/7. So I’m excited to be in an environment that’s so different and so familiar to me at the same time.
What’s your vision for this voyage?
John: My vision is to challenge students to live each day with gratitude and joy, knowing that this is a unique experience that cannot be duplicated on any college campus. And to make it the best voyage in the history of the program.
Paul: Simply put, I want this voyage to be successful for all the people involved. I want people to be safe. On the back end, about 200 people have put in two years of planning to make this all come to life, so I would love to see all of that planning come through in a seamless execution. But more than anything, I want this to be a life-changing voyage for our students, where they build a tremendous appreciation of the expansive world we live in.
Is there a port you’re most looking forward to?
John: I will look forward to every port, but Gdansk will be special given my Polish and Ukrainian heritage. I remember fondly my grandfather and father sharing many stories about the people from these regions of the world.
Paul: I’ve never been to Trinidad, and Trinidad has a world-famous bird center that I’ve always wanted to go to, so I’m really excited to see that.
What’s your family life like on the ship? How is it having your family sail with you?
John: My dear wife will join me in the port of Spain and sail with us to Ecuador. During that sailing we will celebrate our 51st wedding anniversary.
Paul: My spouse, Kate, is also in the wildlife department at CSU and will be sailing and teaching on the voyage with me. We both do a lot of field biology and travel a lot with student groups, so we overlap and can back each other up when we need to.
What keeps you busy when you’re not sailing around the world?
John: When I retired as President of ISE, I was asked to serve on several boards. Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut, Global Nomads in New York, Brothers Brother in Pittsburgh, where I served as the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board, and of course, the ISE Board, where I now serve as Chair of the Risk Management and Operations committee. This, of course, is my favorite because I want to remain close to all aspects of SAS and its future.
Paul: I’m a professor at Colorado State University in the Fish, Wildlife Conservation and Biology department. So during the school year, I stay pretty busy doing that, and during the summer and winter, I direct our field stations at the Mountain Campus in Colorado and Baha, California. My hobbies also revolve around wildlife exploration and bird watching, so my professional and personal life is 100% integrated, much like it will be on Semester at Sea.
What’s your advice for students sailing on this years’ voyage?
John: I hope students will carefully plan their days and do their best to capture the joy of being at sea. I also hope they’ll reach out to their shipmates, because many of them will form friendships that will last a lifetime given the unique community that will come together during the 106 days we will be together.
Paul: Everyone’s in the same boat (ship). So I think if you’re feeling anxious, that’s normal. If you’re excited, that’s normal. If you have questions, that’s normal. So don’t worry about it. Just do your best to be prepared and be open-minded about what you see and experience. It’s going to be great.
Many staff, faculty, Lifelong Learners and even students take multiple voyages with SAS. What keeps people coming back?
John: I think the main reason that so many people come back is that they want to do their best to recreate what they remember from their first voyage.
Paul: It’s a super-impactful, positive experience and the ultimate experiential education. Why wouldn’t you want to do it again?