Schoppa, Garrett Next Academic Deans for Semester at Sea

September 27, 2007
Sept. 28, 2007 -- Leonard Schoppa, a politics professor, and Reginald H. Garrett, a biology professor, have been named the new academic deans for Semester at Sea’s fall 2008 and spring 2009 voyages.

Semester at Sea is a global, comparative, study-abroad experience that features three voyages a year aboard its "floating campus," the MV Explorer. The University of Virginia became the program’s academic sponsor in December 2005.

“The program offers a unique opportunity to explore the four corners of the world with an interdisciplinary group of fellow faculty members and idealistic young college students,” said Schoppa, who recently spent some time aboard the ship. “I saw how the program builds a sense of community between faculty, students and staff that one rarely finds on home campuses.”

Schoppa’s research focuses on Japan’s politics and foreign relations, including a project examining the transformation of Japan’s system of social protection as it has been buffeted by the pressures of globalization and changing gender-role aspirations of women. He has also written extensively about Japan’s economic negotiations with the United States. Schoppa recently stepped down as chairman of the College of Arts & Sciences' Committee on Educational Policy and the Curriculum.

“I see the Semester at Sea deanship as an opportunity to connect more of what students experience in ports to what they are studying in on-board classrooms,” Schoppa said.

“Leonard Schoppa brings outstanding qualifications to the position of academic dean,” said Dudley J. Doane, director of Summer and Special Academic Programs. “In addition to being a highly rated instructor of comparative politics, Len has focused his research on the politics of Japan and international relations in East Asia. He has also lived in Asia at different points in his life.

The fall 2008 voyage will include stops in Nassau, Bahamas; Salvador, Brazil; Walvis Bay, Namibia; Cape Town, South Africa; Chennai, India; Penang, Malaysia; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Hong Kong; Shanghai; Kobe, Japan; Yokohama, Japan; Honolulu; and Puntarenas, Costa Rica, before transiting the Panama Canal and ending in Miami, Fla.

Garrett, the dean for the spring 2009 voyage, sees the Semester at Sea program as an opportunity to expand science education and structure a curriculum around early human evolution and migration.

Garrett also wants to create a program that accommodates the continuity of science education.

“I want to have courses, such as second-semester introduction to physics and second-semester introduction to chemistry,” said Garrett, who has assisted with the development of the Semester at Sea academic program since 2006. “That way students can go on the voyage and not lose their place in their major.”

“Reg Garrett is highly regarded by both students and peers at the University,” said Doane. “He brings a wealth of experience, as a teacher, researcher and administrator, to the academic dean position.”

Doane said more science programs would be added to the Semester at Sea program under Garrett’s guidance.

The itinerary of the spring 2009 semester is still being finalized, Garrett said, but he wants it to include the Mediterranean, India, Vietnam and China.

William A. Soffa, professor of materials science and engineering, is the academic dean of Semester at Sea’s fall 2007 voyage. Daniel Ehnbom, associate professor of art history, is the dean for the spring 2008 voyage and Karen Ryan, interim dean of Arts & Sciences and associate dean for the arts, humanities and social science, is scheduled to be the dean of the summer 2008 voyage.

For information on Semester at Sea, visit