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MRS '19 Wraps Up @ SUNY Maritime

"The President's Panel" helped to bring the 10th Annual Maritime Risk Symposium to a close yesterday. (L to R); Eric Johansson, SUNY Maritime; RADM Michael E. Fossum, Superintendent, Texas A&M Maritime Academy; RADM Michael Alfultis, President, SUNY Maritime College; RADM Francis X. McDonald, President of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and moderator RADM Fred Rosa (USCG, Ret.), Johns Hopkins APL. (Photo: SUNY Maritime)

Greg Trauthwein

"The decrease in state spending on higher education is what keeps me awake at night" is how RADM Michael Alfultis, President, SUNY Maritime College, neatly summarized the biggest challenge he faces as the leader of one of the U.S.' leading maritime universities.

"With a small student body (about 1700), the numbers simply don't work," noting that while state funding 15 years ago covered two-thirds of the college's operating expenses, that percentage hovers at or below 30% today.

The 10th Annual Maritime Risk Symposium closed yesterday at the Maritime College State University of New York feature a panel of three presidents of leading U.S. Maritime Academies: RADM Michael Alfultis, President, SUNY Maritime College; RADM Michael E. Fossum, Superintendent, Texas A&M Maritime Academy; and RADM Francis X. McDonald, President of Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Moderating the panel was RADM Fred Rosa (USCG, Ret.), Johns Hopkins APL, who discussed with the University leaders and the audience of nearly 200 the challenges facing not only maritime universities, but the maritime sector as a whole.

Echoing Alfultis, RADM Francis X. McDonald, President of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, said his state funding for Mass Maritime is in the low 20%. But beyond funding, he sees the biggest challenge for his institution and the maritime industry as a whole is attracting and educated a broader diversity of students, including more women and under-represented minorities. "We have to find a way to diversity our institution and our industry," and the best means he sees to accomplish this is collaboration; collaboration with other universities, with local communities and organizations, and with local schools starting at the earliest ages.

image RADM Francis X. McDonald, President of Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Photo: Greg Trauthwein

Switching gears was RADM Michael E. Fossum, Superintendent, Texas A&M Maritime Academy, a veteran of three space flights who took up his post after retiring from NASA. He sees a top challenge to the industry as a whole, and in fact the nation, is fortifying the Jones Act. "The Jones act is about our nation's security, and you have seen a degradation of sealift capacity since Desert Storm," said Fossum. "We need those U.S. flag vessels because we need that capability which is ours."

imageRADM Michael E. Fossum, Superintendent, Texas A&M Maritime Academy. Photo: Greg Trauthwein


Nov 15, 2019

 

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