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Meet the Fall 2022 Executive and Academic Deans

Deans Craig Chesson and Travis Mayard
From left to right: Executive Dean Craig Chesson and Academic Dean Travis Maynard


On every Semester at Sea voyage, the leadership qualities exemplified by the executive leadership team are vital aspects of setting the tone for our shipboard community. This semester, Executive Dean, Dr. Craig Chesson, and Academic Dean, Dr. Travis Maynard are steering our Fall 2022 shipboard community. Both of these exceptional individuals are seasoned Semester at Sea alumni and have several decades of higher education experience between them.

Get to know the Deans below!

Fall 2022 Executive Dean Craig Chesson
Fall 2022 Executive Dean Craig Chesson

Tell us about your role and function in the shipboard community? Which part of your job is your favorite?

Craig: I serve as the Executive Dean for the Fall 2022 Voyage.  My main responsibilities include leading the voyage’s academic and community programming and personnel. I also work closely with the crew, medical team, and student life team to respond to health, safety, and security issues involving program participants.

My favorite part of the job is connecting with students and learning about their story.  Students have fascinating stories related to Semester at Sea.  Some have planned this journey for years.  Students are willing to share their experiences and want to connect with staff and faculty in a non-threatening environment.  Semester at Sea provides that platform.

Travis: As the Fall 2022 Voyage Academic Dean, I have the pleasure of working with our world-class faculty to offer a wonderful academic experience for our students. I also coordinate our evening “Cross Currents” seminars where students can learn from our faculty and entire shipboard community on a myriad of topics.

The favorite part of my job is seeing how engaged our students are within their classes and how much our faculty enjoy working with our students. In terms of my individual class, my favorite part is being able to spend a full day with my students in a port and integrating what we have learned in class to our interactions in port. Semester at Sea Field Classes really bring the lessons that students have learned in the classroom to life.


How is a shipboard learning community like Semester at Sea different from other academic communities, such as the traditional college campus?

Craig: The learning community at Semester at Sea is original because you are taking courses on a ship.  The content you learn in class is supported by the field class instructors lead in port. There are evening seminars taught by talented faculty on topics that are unique to their expertise.  You truly become close to your faculty by having meals with them in the dining halls as well as exploring the ports with them.  Staff and faculty become true mentors which extends past the voyage.

Travis: While there are a lot of similarities, the SAS community is also quite different from life on a land-based campus. Students and faculty interact to a much greater extent on the ship. When I sailed on the Spring 2017 Voyage, I really relished the opportunity to get to know my students to a greater extent and I am convinced that knowing my students better, helped me to be a more impactful faculty leader. Another key difference (and a real strength of SAS) is that the faculty team interacts to a greater extent with the student life and other staff positions. We have adopted the term “Staculty” to demonstrate the collaborative nature that staff and faculty share in helping our students learn all the time – in classes, in their student life programming, over a lunch conversation, in port, etc.

What’s your goal or vision for this voyage?

Craig: The goal for the voyage is to create an educational experience for all voyagers and help them become global citizens.  During their time on the voyage I want to challenge them to grow academically, socially, and personally.  Particiapnts will learn how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable as far as learning about different cultures.  My other goal is to have a safe and healthy voyage as much as possible.  This will be accomplished by working closely with the crew and following established protocols.  Finally, the other vision for the voyage is to have a lot of fun.

Travis: My goal/vision for this voyage is for students to gain a much deeper world view than they had at the start of the voyage. I am convinced that the experiential learning opportunities afforded students through their SAS experience will be one of the richest and most impactful experiences of their lives, and the faculty are privileged to be a part of that for our students.

Fall 2022 Academic Dean Travis Maynard
Fall 2022 Academic Dean Travis Maynard

What advice do you have for students sailing on this year’s voyage?

Craig: I would recommend students to leave all preconceived notions about the program and world at home.  This is a unique adventure that includes learning about maritime culture and living in a confined space with people from around the world.  The crew that works on the ship is another element of learning.  They have lived experiences you are unable to teach in the classroom.  This experience is filled with new encounters with the shipboard community members.  Once you shift and are willing to be open you will receive an education about the world no other study abroad program can offer.

Travis: My advice is really two sides of a coin – push yourself out of your comfort zone: talk with your peers and also engage with shipmates you may not normally connect with, go to a student club that you wouldn’t on your home campus, and attend an evening seminar that is focused on a topic you know nothing about. By doing these things, you are experiencing unique things you never would have otherwise. But, the other side of the coin is that you have to balance how much you participate in. You have rigorous academic calendar and in order to gain as much as you can from all of these experiences, you have to take care of yourself. So, make sure you are engaging in self-care so that you can have the stamina to engage with the shipboard community in various ways over the entirety of the voyage.

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