Jack Davis and Shari Stocker leave the director's house in Athens for the last time on June 30! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind with still so much to accomplish and wrap up, including a public service spot for Greek tourism (you can watch it here!) Already five years have passed since he arrived in Greece and we interviewed him about his plans for the School. Last week we posed several questions to him as he was packing to depart.
ASCSA: I read the interview we did with you 5 years ago and it seems like you accomplished much of what you set out to do; that is, to communicate the activities of the School more clearly both to members in Athens and internationally; explore ways in which the School can reach out more to the academic and Greek community; and finally, to bring about a greater sense of unity within the School itself. Was there anything you did NOT get to do that was on your to-do list?
DAVIS: Funny you should ask that! One thing that I wanted to do was to develop educational programs that would directly benefit Greek students and teachers by sharing with them not only the resources of the School but also suggestions for developing innovative lesson plans and teaching strategies. I still think that there is scope for doing this on a small scale and in a way that would benefit Greece.
ASCSA: What have been your most memorable experiences during your term?
DAVIS: There have been so many! Much of what goes on at the School reflects the circadian rhythm of the academic year: new students and scholars arrive, trips depart, we celebrate the holidays, and summer excavations begin. It should be self-evident that one of the great joys of being at ASCSA is meeting the many students and scholars who come to the School to participate in our programs or to conduct research. Amidst this longue durée backdrop, short-term, unique events stand out: the burning of the Christmas tree in Syntagma Square in 2008; the first Annual Meeting of the School in Thessaloniki in March, 2009; the collapse of global markets one year into my term of office; our "Philhellenism and Philanthropy" workshop in 2011; a "Corinth and Its Colonies" workshop this academic year; the completion of the remodeling of the Stoa of Attalos; and our trip to Egypt with students this past spring. But there has been so much more — life at the School is always a challenge, often fun, and there is never a dull moment. I am particularly proud that I have been able to collaborate in the execution of two important digitization initiatives and in the planning of a third, as well as in the implementation of on-line, real-time presentations and podcasts of lectures and other events in our public facilities. ASCSA can now deliver its treasures to a worldwide audience, not only to scholars, but to the general public.
ASCSA: You certainly knew the school very well before you became director but was there anything that surprised you about the school (or Athens) during your 5 years here?
DAVIS: We should probably say that I THOUGHT that I knew the School well before I became director, but I quickly became aware of the fact that the School was much more complicated in its organization and supported much broader constituencies than I had imagined. The Gennadius Library is a case in point. I had really no idea how important a cultural role it plays in Greek society through its lectures and special events, and as the result of the wonderful society of Friends of the Gennadius that lends its support to activities there. Nor did I know anything about the talented and devoted group of Trustees who manage our affairs and guide our development. Getting to know the boards of the School and of the Gennadius Library has been a special treat for me, as has been working with them on long range plans for the development of ASCSA over the next several decades. Then, too, our Archives Department has been my guilty pleasure, and much of my research over my term has taken advantage of the fact that I have had resources available to me here to which I did not have easy access previously. In being able to study topics such as the history of our journal Hesperia or the involvement of ASCSA leaders in Red Cross missions to northern Greece in 1918-1919, I feel that I have properly heeded to the advice that our staff has always given to its students — to take full advantage of being in Greece and to do the things here that are best done here and can't be done at home.
Jack, with Shari on his right, received a standing ovation in recognition of his work for the ASCSA at the Managing Commitee meeting in May.
ASCSA: What biggest piece of advice will you be passing on to the incoming school director Jim Wright?
DAVIS: Actually, I plan to remind Jim of what he gave me when I came to Athens. In the spring of 2007, he sent me a double-sided, pocket-sized card that his father had given him. On one side the header reads: "How to Handle a Problem." On the other, "A Supervisor Gets Results Through People." I have found that this little document carries more good advice than any MBA management manual. I have turned to it again and again, have xeroxed it, and distributed it to all of our department heads, and will leave it on my desk for Jim.
ASCSA: You and Shari worked very much as a team while you were here. What will you two do next? Will you still be living and working in Greece? If not, what will you miss most?
DAVIS: It is certainly true that we have worked as a team and she deserves full credit for her devotion to ASCSA. If I have accomplished anything as director, that has only been as a result of her constant support and superb organizational abilities. We have now taken an apartment in Pylos and will certainly be spending a good deal of time there, where she, as the University of Cincinnati's representative, oversees ASCSA-affiliated archaeological activities at the Palace of Nestor and in the Museum of Chora. In the shorter term, we both plan to be back and forth over the next few years, as I settle back into research and teaching responsibilities at the University of Cincinnati. So, we will be living in Greece quite a bit. However, what I will miss about living in Athens and being director of the School is our staff. They are our most valuable resource, and their devotion to our institution is what makes us the important force that we are, both in Greece and around the world.