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02/12/2007 | Dean of Students and Administration . Dennis F. Caffrey: An Appreciation

Martin Edwin Andersen

Sometimes the hardest part is saying ‘goodbye.”

 

It's a thought on quite a few minds here at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies and ‘round the region, as Dennis F. Caffrey, dean of students and administration, prepares for his retirement in January 2008. 

Dennis has been has been a key leader at the Center, well respected and liked due to his uncontested record as one of the its most committed and effective educators and a colleague who tirelessly seeks better ways to meet CHDS' mission and goals.

“Dean Caffrey has used his prodigious skills in planning, organizing, and managing a wide range of international activities, both operational and academic, in the Western Hemisphere to the greatest benefit for the Center,” notes CHDS Director Richard D. Downie. 

“Totally committed to CHDS’ vision and mission, he has contributed greatly to both of these given his extensive knowledge of the Western Hemisphere and its people, together with an iron-clad commitment to the highest ethical standards and his own best personal performance.”

Dennis has been with CHDS since the beginning--first as a contracted facilitator, then as a senior executive, and has held progressively more responsible jobs since he joined CHDS. These include chief of academic affairs, chief of planning and outreach, and dean of students, administration and outreach.  He was primarily responsible for the development and implementation of the Center’s National Security Planning Workshops (NSPWs) that have assisted newly-elected governments in the Western Hemisphere to enhance their interagency coordination while developing a process for creating a national security policy and strategy.

For nearly four years, Dennis has led the Center’s efforts to prepare CAPSTONE fellows (incoming U.S. general officers) for the trip to Western Hemisphere countries, implementing a novel approach that has won high praise for the quality of CHDS’ presentations. And he has also served as editor-in-chief of The Message Board at a time when the tri-lingual publication has won rave reviews both in the region and among CHDS’ Regional Center colleagues.

Friends and colleagues say Dennis’ tenure at CHDS has been characterized by extraordinary commitment and performance, particularly gifted at forging diverse and multinational staff elements into effective teams.  He is also highly respected for the unique talents he brings to consensus building regarding public policy issues in a multitude of demanding assignments. And his prodigious appetite for detail is legendary.

"Dennis is one of the most thorough, detail-oriented professionals I have known," says Dr. E. Richard Downes, a CHDS assistant professor. "Not only was he instrumental in establishing and growing the CHDS's academic curriculum, but especially his understanding of Latin American and Caribbean cultures which paved the way for the success of CHDS as an institution that preaches and practices effectively in cross-cultural communication."

“When dealing with Dennis you have to be ready to answer two questions,” joked CHDS Dean Emeritus Robert Olson, a long-time friend. “The first: ‘What’s the objective?’ The second: ‘What’s the inclement weather plan?’”

“He is also a great master of ceremonies,” Olson added.  “I always got out of it by telling the director that Dennis did it so much better than me.”

“Dennis was always willing to follow me to any restaurant, to eat the food, drink the booze, share the jokes, and avoid the check,” deadpans another old friend, Dr. Richard Millett, the noted Latin American historian. “Seriously, he is a generous friend--generous with his time, his help and anything else someone might need.  He always listens and cares, cares about his friends, his nation, relations with the rest of the Hemisphere, and, most of all, his family.  And he has become a loyal member of the Ancient and Honorable League of Grandparents.”

Dennis’ wide popularity among the CHDS faculty and staff is particularly heartfelt by younger and new employees who benefit greatly from his mentoring efforts; many of these are self-generated.  "Dennis' leadership style, with its emphasis on caring for the individual, in addition to focusing on the mission at hand, have been a wonderfully helpful example for me to learn from and follow", reported Van Beall, long-time CHDS registrar.  "He will be truly missed by all".

Dennis came to CHDS holding a MBA degree from the University of Missouri.  His extensive experience with the armed forces in the Western Hemisphere includes serving as head of J-5 at the U.S. Southern Command; secretary general of SICOFAA (the Conference of Air Forces of the Americas), and as an exchange officer in Peru, where he graduated from the Peruvian Air Force Command and General Staff Course in Lima in 1978.  He retired as a coronel in the U.S. Air Force, went on to head a Miami-based international consulting and marketing firm, and is the author of more than 20 articles in professional journals and books in the United States, Peru and Colombia.

“His extraordinary commitment to the Center’s mission and values, together with his bedrock love of country and of the peoples and cultures of the region, has made his contribution both unique and lasting,” Downie said. “The many relationships, personal and professional, he has made during his service to the Center speak to the best values shared by Americans from many walks of life, particularly those in service to their country, and will be surely repeated in the performance of the many people he has mentored from Canada to Tierra del Fuego. 

“With a gathering wind already at his back, we wish him all happiness and prosperity in his newest adventures.”

Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (Estados Unidos)

 



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