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Meet The Deans Of Spring 2015

G46A2170Both are experienced voyagers from previous semesters spent with the floating university that is Semester at Sea. Academic Dean Mark Thomas and Executive Dean Bob Vieira have been deemed “The Dean Team”. With no shortage of knowledge, character, and wisdom, they fit the pun intended title perfectly.

Mark Thomas sailed previously on the Fall 2011 voyage as Academic Dean and is a Professor of History and Economics at the University of Virginia. He received his BA from Oxford University, holds an MA in Economics from Cornell University, and completed his D.Phil. at Nuffield College, Oxford. Even more, Mark’s dissertation was awarded the inaugural Alexander Gerschenkron Prize from the Economic History Association.

Academic Dean Mark Thomas
Academic Dean Mark Thomas

Bob Vieira has sailed five times previous this Spring 2015 voyage, having sailed as Executive Dean in 1997, 2001, 2006, and 2012, and as Dean of Students in 1984. Bob was recently named Vice Provost Emeritus at Oregon Health and Sciences University and has had a tremendously accomplished career in higher education in Oregon. In 2013, he was awarded the Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Performance as a Dean by NASPA-the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Outside of academics, these two have their fair share of fun. Mark’s hobbies include cricket and croquet. He explained that the croquet he plays is not the croquet most Americans know about, “This is like extreme croquet, in the sense that we play with mallets and real heavy balls. It is an extremely ruthless sport.”

Mark Thomas Fun Fact: He is a gold medal ballroom dancer

In Bob’s spare time he likes to be outside, “during the summer I have a big vegetable garden, so I like spending my time working in the garden.” He also enjoys hiking and plans to hike part of the Santiago de Compostela trail in Spain come September 2016.

Bob Vieira Fun Fact: He played basketball at UC Irvine his freshman year

Executive Dean Bob Vieira

As experienced SAS alumni, the Deans reflected on how students can get the most out of Semester at Sea. Bob explained, “This program is so much more than going port to port and country to country. It’s really the learning that happens in-between ports abroad the ship, with the people aboard the ship that really makes it such a great experience.”

Mark’s advice to students was to soak in every single experience, “rather than just squeeze one more thing into your day wherever you are, if you stop, relax and just soak in the atmosphere, if you do that, and if you sit in a quiet place and watch the world go by, what tends to happen over time is that you feel the nuances and feel the depths, rather than just the superficiality of the places.”

Both Deans agree that the advantage to sailing around the world as part of the Spring 2015 voyage is a global comparative education. “I think that Semester at Sea is unique because young people today are growing up in a global world. We hope that they’ll go out there and start resolving the problems happening in these different countries. Understand the problems from one country to another. Make connections that sets someone up to understand the world better and hopefully have an effect on the world in a positive way” said Bob.

This 112-day journey does not stop when the ship docks in Southampton. Mark continues, “I challenge the parents to continue to challenge their children when they get home—don’t ask ‘where did you go?’ ‘what did you see?’ but instead ask ‘what did you feel, learn, experience?’”

If the “Dean Team” has it their way, this Spring 2015 voyage will never truly cease – The journey has just begun.

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