Academic Center for Excellence
The mission of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) is to maintain a high student retention rate by providing holistic development strategies and academic support for all Midshipmen. The primary goal is to achieve this mission through the use of educational “scaffolding,” in all aspects of the Academy experience, not solely in the classroom. The collective efforts of USMMA faculty, mentors, professional staff and tutors provide Midshipmen with the support and instruction they need to achieve their academic goals be successful in their overall educational pursuit. At the ACE, Midshipmen can develop effective learning habits that will bear lasting benefits during their time at the Academy both ashore and afloat, and after graduation as professionals and lifelong learners.
Captain Paul D. Acquaro, United States Maritime Service and United States Navy, Retired
Director of the Academic Center for Excellence
Captain Acquaro has a Bachelor of Science from the State University of New York Maritime College in Marine Transportation with a Humanities concentration, a Master of Science in Education with Distinction from New York Institute of Technology, and Master of Science with an advanced teaching certificate in Students with Disabilities from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College. Not only does he have a Master's Degree in Education, he also holds two New York State Public School Teacher Certifications in Education to include Childhood Education and working with Students with Disabilities. Captain Acquaro is currently ABD for his Doctorate in Business Administration with an emphasis on Higher Education Leadership.
As Director of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE), his focus is on providing academic leadership, communication, planning, and forward-thinking skills to the midshipmen at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Part of his portfolio in the ACE also includes facilitating faculty development where he emphasizes skills development in pedagogy and classroom management. CAPT Acquaro has given several presentations on student learning to various professional organizations from the Conference of Service Academies Superintendents to the Symposium of University Research and Creative Expression. He has also been published with regard to student learning and technology, as well as technology in education across the socio-economic statuses.
Captain Acquaro holds Coast Guard Endorsed Licenses both as a Deck and Engine Officer. He has professional experience sailing on both a tanker and container ship as a Third Mate Unlimited Tonage. However, the bulk of his sailing experience stems from his time on active duty in the United States Navy where he served in Engineering Department positions from Electrical Officer to Main Propulsion Officer, culminating as Chief Engineer. His duty stations included time at Commander Naval Surface Force, Atlantic (CNSFUSAF-IG) as the Assistant to the Inspector General; time on the USS Seattle (AOE3), USS Nassau (LHA4) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG51). He retired from Afloat Training Group, Atlantic (ATGLANT N-82) as an Engineering Readiness Assessment Officer. While on active duty, his designations included Surface Warfare Officer, Chemical Radiological and Biological Response Officer, Vessel Boarding and Search and Seizure Officer, Strategic Sea Lift Officer, and Shipboard Legal Officer.
Captain Acquaro is committed to providing our midshipmen a challenging but safe environment where they may develop their academic abilities, leadership potential, and social skills. As the member of the Academy’s administration most devoted to retention, his cross-departmental communication is steadfast in student success opportunities. He serves on various committees across the campus and has chaired six major committees during his tenure to include the most recent efforts on the 2024-2031 Strategic Planning Committee. He is a resident of Long Island, New York where he and wife Stacey have one daughter, Jordan.