KINGS POINT, N.Y., July 29, 2014 - On Thursday, the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) faculty, staff and Regiment of Midshipmen came together at the annual Academic Convocation to celebrate the beginning the 2014-2015 Academic Year. The Academic Convocation is one of USMMA’s greatest traditions. It promotes an atmosphere of academic excellence and sets the tone for a productive academic year.
The Master of Ceremonies, Deputy Commandant, Captain Bob DeStafney, called the audience to attention for the for the arrival of the faculty, Superintendent, Academic Dean, Department Heads and senior administrative staff, who processed into Ackerman Auditorium led by the senior-ranking faculty member, Dr. Charles Weber, carrying the Academic Mace. Once the official party was situated, Dr. Weber announced, “The 20th Academic Convocation of the United States Merchant Marine Academy is now convened”. Then Captain DeStafney introduced the Academic Dean, Shashi N. Kumar, PhD.
Dr. Kumar welcomed the assembly and shared key academic success data. He encouraged the regiment of midshipmen to excel in academics and take responsibility for reaching out to the faculty and staff for academic support. Then, he introduced the academic leadership followed by the names recently installed Professors Emeriti--Dr. David Dellwo, Prof. Jose Femenia and Dr. Boris Butman. A total of five Professors Emeriti including Dr. Butman attended the function, the others being Dr. Walter M. Maclean, Capt. Robert Madden, Dr. Laurence Cassar, and Dr. Jacques Szaluta. He thanked them for their dedicated service to the Academy.
Dr. Kumar was followed by the Regimental Commander, Midshipman Captain Nicholas Harvey, who delivered a motivational speech directed toward the Regiment of Midshipmen. He made special mention of his fellow First Classmen, saying, “We are all one class, once separated by sea year, together we will succeed… I look forward to walking across the stage together in a few short months!”
Then, Admiral James A. Helis, Superintendent, addressed the entire Academy community. “Today we mark the beginning of a new and great academic year,” said Helis. “The tools to succeed academically are within both the midshipmen and faculty.”
Finally, Dean Kumar introduced Captain Brian Ackerman, the faculty speaker selected by the Class of 2014 for his outstanding contributions to midshipman academic success both within and outside the classroom. CAPT Ackerman delivered a very inspirational speech to the future Merchant Marine Officers. He said, “Lead from the front. You never want to lead from the control room of a ship with a cup of coffee in your hand. You want to be out there, in the trenches, doing the job.” Ackerman later echoed the sentiments of the Superintendent, Dean, and Regimental Commander, saying, “No ship moves through the efforts of one individual. Similarly, no one graduated Kings Point on their own. Teamwork is the key to success.”