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David Gies honored with Thomas Jefferson Award

By Katherine Jackson

David Gies, John T. Casteen III
Stephanie Gross
President John T. Casteen III (right) presented the Thomas Jefferson Award to Commonwealth Professor of Spanish David Gies at Fall Convocation.

David T. Gies, a noted scholar and administrator who has taught Spanish literature at the University since 1979, received U.Va.'s highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award, at Fall Convocation ceremonies Oct. 13.

Given annually since 1955, the award honors a member of the University community who exemplifies in character, work and influences the ideals of the University's founder.

"With characteristic enthusiasm, grace and good humor, Mr. Gies has immersed himself in all aspects of University life," the award citation says of Gies, the Commonwealth Professor of Spanish and a former president of the Faculty Senate.

"The University is a livelier and a more interesting place in no small part because of his efforts," President John T. Casteen III said in presenting the award. He "is a great soul with a list of personal qualities that would put a boy scout to shame, and gladden the heart of our founder."

Known for his devotion to the classroom and students, Gies received the University's Outstanding Teaching Award in 1992. Extending his influence well beyond his own classroom, he has conducted numerous educational programs for high school teachers statewide and nationwide for two decades.

Serving as chair of the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese from 1984 to 1989 and again from 1992 to 1995, Gies helped guide the department to a position as one of the most prestigious language programs in the country.

The author or editor of some 12 books, Gies is one of the world's leading Spanish literature scholars. His book, The Theater in Nineteenth Century Spain, published by Cambridge University Press, is a landmark in its field. He served as editor of The Cambridge Companion to Modern Spanish Culture, published in 1998 and currently serves as editor of The Cambridge History of Spanish Literature.

As president of the Faculty Senate last year and member of its executive council since 1997, Gies has worked to enhance the intellectual community at the University. His efforts on that front have ranged from helping establish the popular café in the foyer of Alderman Library as a meeting place for faculty and students to launching the Forum for Contemporary Thought, a lecture series that brings speakers of compelling intellectual interest to the University.


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