Skip to content

5 Minutes with John Tymitz



John Tymitz is the Executive Dean of the Fall 2012 voyage of Semester at Sea, and the former CEO of the Institute for Shipboard Education. He’s also one of the most dynamic and influential leaders among Semester at Sea, and his career stretches back to the founding days.

His first voyage was in 1972, when he and his wife sailed along with their two small children while teaching as part of Chapman University’s World Campus Afloat program. This would begin a lifetime career for Tymitz, as he worked his way up from Field Office Coordinator in 1973 to Associate Dean in 1974 and then, Associate Director of Operations.

When Chapman University cancelled the World Campus Afloat program in the ‘70s, Tymitz found himself working strategically to bring it back to life, co-founding the Institute for Shipboard Education and laying the groundwork for what would become Semester at Sea as it is today.

We sat down with Executive Dean John Tymitz for an exclusive interview to find out more about his life behind-the-scenes.

Q: What has been your Most Memorable Voyage?

“The first! 1972. Everyone’s first voyage is the most memorable, because everything is so new, but each voyage has been fantastic and wonderful, and of course, each voyage then becomes the ‘best.’”

Q: What’s your Favorite Secret Spot on the Ship?

‚ÄúForward on the new deck 8, just above the faculty and ship lounge.”

Q: How About Your Favorite On-ship Meal?

“Breakfast. Can I say breakfast?”

Q. Sure! What’s the Biggest Challenge You Face In Your Role?

“Learning the names of every student. I saw one student the other day and I asked her name and she said “You already asked me for my name,” and I said, “Yes, and I’ll probably ask you another 15 times!’”

Q: Who is Your Role Model? Who do you Look up to?

“Desmond Tutu. He got me through prostate cancer, and he’s one of the few international figures who will send you an email right after you send him one.”

Q: What Course Are You Most Excited About on This Voyage?

“Global Studies. I think Global Studies is going to shine and I think the students and the faculty are going to have fun with it.”

Q: What’s the Most Rewarding Part About Your Job?

“The students that I see every morning. The best part is many of them are smiling at me. Everyone is beautiful, as long as they smile.”

Executive Dean John Tymitz meets with the heads of the academic and administration departments each day in his office to ensure the voyage is going smoothly.
Dean John writes cards to all students whom celebrate their birthday aboard the ship.
Dean John strolls with Kathy Pao (on her birthday) past his portrait near to the computer lab.
Dean John makes it his mission to try to learn the names of each and every student aboard the MV Explorer. At the very least he comes very very close.
  • Life on Land

Related Articles

Who’s On Board? Meet Dorcas, our Tutu Ubuntu Scholar
Read More
Semester at Sea updates Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 itineraries with new destinations on three continents
Read More
Spring 2023 Voyage: By the Numbers
Read More