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USMMA Operations Status: Normal

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ACE Location & Staff

The ACE is located on the Main Deck of Wiley Hall, Entrance facing the waterfront. 

CAPT Paul D. Acquaro, ACE Director

The Director of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) is Captain Paul D. Acquaro, USMS, Retired. CAPT Acquaro’s focus provides academic leadership to the entirety of the Academy Community. Through the use of his military, professional and educational background, CAPT Acquaro motivates the Midshipmen at the United States Merchant Marine Academy during their academic journey. He daily models for them the importance of communication, planning, and forward thinking-skills. CAPT Acquaro also runs our faculty development program based in his expertise in student engagement, classroom management techniques, and pedagogy. He is a graduate of the State University of New York Maritime College, New York Institute of Technology, City University of New York Brooklyn College, and worked on his Doctoral Studies at Saint Thomas University. With a Master’s Degree in Education, CAPT Acquaro also holds multiple New York State Public School certifications in Childhood Education and the Teaching Students with Special Needs (K-8). He is honored to be a member of the USMMA staff where the aim is to develop the whole student through appropriate and meaningful modes of assessment in a challenging curriculum composed of both engaging classroom and self-driven sea year learning opportunities. He is a strong advocate for providing students the proper scaffolding and care on their King’s Point journey be it in the classroom, on the athletic field, or seeking social growth through one of our various club activities.    

CAPT Acquaro holds a Coast Guard Endorsed Unlimited Tonnage Third Mate License with professional experience sailing on both tanker and container ships. The bulk of CAPT Acquaro’s sailing experience, however, stems from his time on active duty in the United States Navy from which he retired in 2008. While on active duty he served in all roles in the Engineering Department both afloat and ashore. These positions included Electrical Officer through Main Propulsion Officer, culminating in the role of Chief Engineer. His duty stations included time at Commander Naval Surfaces Atlantic as the Assistant to the Inspector General; Afloat Training Group, Atlantic as an Engineering Readiness Assessment Officer; and the USS Seattle (AOE3) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG51). Captain Acquaro proudly served ashore as a member of the Inspector General’s staff for the Commander Naval Surface Forces Atlantic and was also designated as Shipboard Legal Officer.


Dr. Jennifer Albert, ACE Deputy Director

Dr. Jennifer Albert brings over 20 years of experience in the higher education and K-12 sectors, as well as community engagement and government relations to her role as Deputy Director of the ACE. Various professional positions include Partnership Specialist for the United States Census Bureau; Dean of Students; Director of HEOP, at New York State Education Department college opportunity and access program; Director of Student Support Services inclusive of the offices of Residential Life, Student Activities, College Counseling, Veterans Services, and Special Needs programs; and Associate Professor of English, Psychology, and Education. As Superintendent and Head of School for a private secondary school serving both domestic and international students, Dr. Albert was invited to represent the United States as a keynote speaker for a Future Leaders summit in Shanghai, China, and was presented with the Blackboard Catalyst Award for innovative, virtual student support services in 2018.

Dr. Albert holds a PhD in Higher Education Administration, an MA in English, and a BA in Psychology and Creative Writing. She is passionate about ensuring that the overall experience of education for all students is maximized. She specializes in comprehensive success plans that bridge and balance intrinsic knowledge, natural talent, and personal strengths with academic achievement, campus resources, civic engagement, career goals, and global mindedness. She values collaboration with colleagues and students who hold academic excellence and public service in the highest regard.


Taleen Stroud, USCG Licensing and Credentialing Officer

Description of support—

Provides support to midshipmen regarding the USCG application, licensing, and credentialing process. Support is offered to midshipmen in large group settings, individually, and through Blackboard. Liaison with internal stakeholders such as the academic departments, Office of Health Services, Shipboard Training, Commandant, Registrar, and Waterfront to ensure midshipmen are meeting all USCG requirements for licensure and graduation. Liaison with external stakeholders such as USCG including the National Maritime Center and the Regional Exam Centers, State Maritime Academies, and the Maritime Academy Council.


Kristin Delury, Educational Technology Specialist

Description of support—

Provides support to faculty and students in the areas of Blackboard, Cengage,, and other educational technology resources and tools. Support is enhanced through interdepartmental relationships with our instructional technology specialist, DoIT, and communications with our Blackboard and Cengage liaisons.

Class of 2029 Applications Open 1 May 2024