Gies to students:
"It's cool to be smart"
Faculty Senate continues campaign to build intellectual
By Nancy Hurrelbrinck
Rugby Road whose porches buzz with discussions about Kafka and
quarks and Israeli-Palestinian re- lations is the vision Spanish
professor David Gies brings to his new position, chair of the
"How do we make substantive intellectual exchange happen,
not just between students and faculty, but among students themselves?"
he asked. "Fraternities and sororities have to be more than
just social and service organizations. They should be at the core
of intellectual life at U.Va. as well."
Besides continuing its campaign to raise the level of intellectual
community at U.Va., this year the Faculty Senate will initiate
a University-wide conversation about its theme for the year, "Teaching,
Research and the Creation of Knowledge,˛ said Gies, who has taught
at U.Va. for 20 years.
group will also develop publicity for the Faculty Speakers' Bureau,
which arranges for faculty to address alumni and community organizations,
and explore how they might become involved in "Make a Difference
Day." They will continue working on improving junior faculty
mentoring; overseeing the Forum for Contemporary Thought; and
encouraging outstanding teaching and advising with the Initiative
to Promote Excellent Teaching and Harrison awards.
The Faculty Senate will also become involved in the affirmative
action debate that heated up recently when a member of the Board
of Visitors publicly questioned U.Va.'s admissions policy in regard
to race. Many concerned faculty members have contacted Gies regarding
how the Faculty Senate might respond, he said. At its Oct. 4 meeting,
the group will discuss the issue and determine an appropriate
response to recent developments.
who attended the Sept. 10 Faculty Senate retreat initiated discussions
about teaching and research. Among the questions debated were:
How do teaching and research help or hinder one another? What
can faculty do to inform students about their research? What's
the role of research in a university? Faculty also had an open
dialogue about what their research entails.
"I'd like to have some University-wide panels to discuss
the issue, including some proponents of more teaching and some
of more research," Gies said.
Many at the retreat felt they hadn't had enough time to fully
explore the topic, so it will be taken up again at the Oct. 4
Faculty Senate meeting.
University-wide conversation, like one last year that focused
on the role of information technology at the University, is just
one of many ways the Faculty Senate has been trying to foster
The creation of spaces like the Alderman Café and the Garden Room
is another. "The Garden Room is helping bring people from
all disciplines together," Gies said, noting that the service
has gotten much faster and there's a new chef.
reach out to students, Gies wrote a column called "It's cool
to be smart" for an issue of the Cavalier
Daily that was sent to incoming first-year students.
"So many of them think it's not cool to sit down and talk
about Gabriel Garcia Marquez or biochemistry. I'd love to eventually
create a climate in which that's OK," he said. "I want
to see a passionate overspill from the classroom. Faculty can
help instill that."