The Department of Transportation is committed to providing every midshipman at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy the highest-quality education possible. And to help us achieve that goal, Deputy Secretary John Porcari and I visited the Kings Point, NY, campus last week to announce seven new members of the USMMA Advisory Board.
We're counting on the new Advisory Board members to help Kings Point further its mission to educate and graduate the best-qualified merchant mariners.
The USMMA Advisory Board serves as an independent body whose purpose is to examine the course of instruction and management at Kings Point and advise Superintendent RADM James Helis and the Maritime Administrator on how to ensure the best possible educational atmosphere.
As RADM Helis said, “Kings Point graduates go on to careers in global transportation, so it is essential that we have an Advisory Board that helps the Academy stay current on maritime industry trends and educational best practices."
With the new members announced last week--who bring expertise in academic excellence, leadership development, and current maritime industry needs and trends--that is exactly what we have done:
- Dr. Sharon van Wyk, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, American Public University System
- Dr. Kathy Humphrey, Vice Provost and Dean of Students, University of Pittsburgh
- Dr. Laurie Leshin, Dean of the School of Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Mr. Marty Linsky, J.D., Faculty, Harvard Kennedy School and Co-Founder, Cambridge Leadership Associates
- Lt. Manuel Maddox, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Class of 2006
- Mr. Bill Pennella, Vice Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice President, Crowley Maritime Corporation
- Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, Professor, Department of Global Studies and Geography, Hofstra University
Another important source of support for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy comes from the terrific Cookie Cafe, where midshipmen can get a taste of home every Thursday afternoon. Parents, family, and friends make the Cookie Cafe happen. They bake hundreds of dozens of home made cookies; they donate money for drinks and paper goods; and they show up week after week spending many hours unpacking the baked goods, setting up the tables, and cleaning up after the day is done.
When I visited campus last week to introduce the Advisory Board, the Cookie Cafe was deliciously well-stocked by the Georgia Parents Association, who supplied more than 250 dozen cookies. Several of the moms had even flown in from Atlanta carting even more cookies and brownies.
We're working hard to position Kings Point as a jewel among the nation's service academies, and the new Advisory Board members will help us achieve that goal. But even future leaders in the global maritime industry can use a taste of home courtesy of the Cookie Cafe.