USMMA Advisory Report

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by Bill1899, Oct 5, 2014.

  1. Bill1899

    Bill1899 Member

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    Anyone have any thoughts on the issues brought up in this report?



    USMMA-AAF Comments on Advisory Board Report

    In a recent presentation of the USMMA Advisory Board Report to the Academy’s Congressional Board of Visitors, Superintendent James Helis and Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen put forward their opinion that Kings Point graduates are deficient in leadership skills, further stating that our graduates’ leadership training lags behind that of the other Service Academies and ROTC programs. In addition, the Advisory Board chairman reported that the Academy’s accreditation is at risk if humanities classes are not increased.
    The AAF could find no basis supporting these unexpected statements, finding instead that the Academy’s academic and maritime training curriculum, only two years old and a full three years in development, is exemplary. Academic performance metrics continue rising and stakeholders such as the USCG consider the Kings Point program as a model for other maritime academies to aspire.
    Mr. Jaenichen and the Superintendent, along with the Advisory report, omitted mention of the Academy’s most distinctive and important leadership development tool: Sea Year. Instead, they referred only to traditional classroom teaching of leadership. This omission signals a lack of understanding of the Sea Year experience and its importance to leadership development as well as maritime training. Sea Year is also a key component that distinguishes USMMA from other Federal Service Academies and State Maritime Schools. Other leadership opportunities abound as Kings Point midshipmen participate in the Regimental system, command vessels on the waterfront, and lead intercollegiate athletic teams, clubs, and professional activities.

    The opinion that USMMA should have more leadership and humanities classes is being used to advocate a revamping of the Academy’s curriculum and calendar. The USMMA-AAF is particularly proud of the academic and training curriculum in place at Kings Point and of the dedicated faculty and staff who worked so hard to accomplish it. We therefore find it concerning that, for example, the Academic Dean was not involved in the study’s curriculum assessment, analysis, or final presentation to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and to the Congressional Board of Visitors.
    AAF Response Picks up Where Advisory Board left off

    In an effort to correct the deficiencies and omissions in the advisory report, the AAF sent a Response to the Advisory Board Report to the Secretary, the Superintendent, the Advisory Board chairman, and the Maritime Administrator. The response focused on areas that the Advisory Board, lacking Academy and maritime expertise, was understandably unable to adequately and accurately report. The Maritime Administrator as well as Deputy Secretary Mendez have replied, but fundamental issues remain. In addition, graduates in attendance at the briefing of the Congressional Board of Visitors drafted Annotated Meeting Minutes which more completely reflect the presentation.
    In their report, the Advisory Board takes the stance that “Students, faculty, alumni, and maritime industry professionals may resist these changes. Nonetheless, the Board strongly supports USMMA’s efforts in these areas and believes that these changes are necessary to ensure continued improvement.” The AAF believes the Academy is best served by a wider net of inclusion, not exclusion, and therefore believe it is in the best interests of the Academy that the study be re-envisioned and re-started. A new study can then have broader stakeholder input, review, and endorsement prior to recommendations being put forth.
    Following a new report should be a public comment period, an important part of the transparency of these endeavors that was absent from the current report (though the request was made by a member of the Congressional Board of Visitors). Regretfully, the report’s open-ended recommendations were presented to and approved by the Secretary. Acting on this approval, the Superintendent has formed committees to investigate changes at the Academy including decreases in maritime training, increases in humanities and leadership courses, and what will likely be a disruptive shift from trimesters to semesters with the addition of ‘mini-mesters’. In a letter to the Maritime Administrator, the Congressional Board of Visitors has asked to be involved in any discussions which contemplate changes to the Academy’s current curriculum and course schedule. This request demonstrates the commitment of the Congressional Board of Visitors to the Academy. The AAF remains grateful for their support of Kings Point.

    Despite what were clearly the best intentions of the Advisory Board, it was ill-equipped to evaluate a program as complex and unique as USMMA. This further demonstrates the need for a qualified Board of Trustees to provide governance of the Academy. As discussed in the Spring 2014 Kings Pointer magazine, a Board of Trustees of distinguished graduates and maritime and education experts will provide Kings Point with the Merchant Marine Academy and maritime experience missing from its leadership and governance today. A proven model at colleges and universities including State Maritime Academies, a USMMA Board of Trustees is a compelling and achievable solution to the governance issues the Academy has historically and perpetually faced.

    Help Us Help The Academy: The AAF has offered to assist the Advisory Board in reaching the external stakeholders whose input was missing from their study and we look forward to playing a supportive role in the success of a new report. We urge Kings Pointers to read all of the materials linked below and send a letter to Secretary Foxx requesting that no changes be made as a result of the Advisory Board Report, and that a new study be conducted with the involvement of all stakeholder groups (graduates, maritime industry, armed services, faculty, students, and parents) who most completely understand the Academy and its mission. We ask that you also encourage the Secretary to meet with the USMMA-AAF so he may benefit from the knowledge of USMMA graduates. We look forward to accepting the recent invitation of the Deputy Secretary to meet with him in the near future.


    Kings Point has an existing program of academic and maritime training excellence that develops leaders who are relied on by a diverse maritime and military customer. Changes to this model program cannot be entered into based on an incomplete understanding of the mission of the institution and how that mission is accomplished. Your input can make a difference. Please write your letter and e-mail it to Anthony.Foxx@dot.gov (cc: usmmaaf@alumni.usmma.edu). Thank you for helping make a difference to Kings Point.

    Sincerely,

    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association and Foundation
    Board of Directors

    REFERENCE DOCUMENTS: USMMA Advisory Board Report, USMMA-AAF Response to the Advisory Board Report, USMMA 2012-2017 Strategic Plan, Letter from Secretary Foxx, Annotated Meeting Minutes of Advisory Board Briefing to Congressional Board of Visitors
     
  2. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    Of course this makes perfect sense! Lets make KP the preeminent maritime academy by reducing the maritime training. Clearly "harder, not smarter" is the order of the day. :bang:
     
  3. Ashore

    Ashore Member

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    Surprised

    Quite surprised at the lack of thoughtful comment to the posting:

    In my view, having worked with many graduates, their leadership skills are first rate. Those skills largely arise from the military structure at KP, the discipline of the entire experience as well as the sea year. I simply do not believe there is any factual basis for Marad or the Supt to think otherwise. If there is such a basis I would like to learn of it. Note that leadership is also something that Marad and the Supt are supposed to be promoting and if it is lacking, they bear responsibility.

    I cannot understand how any advisory board can listen only to those they are intended to advise and not listen to other stake holders such as the USN, maritime employers, etc. It seems to me this is a classic case of rubber stamping.

    I hope an effective program will not see change for the sake of change.
     
  4. Mman5247

    Mman5247 Member

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    write letter to Sec. Foxx

    I couldn't agree more. Please everyone write a letter to Secretary Foxx asking that no decisions be made based on that Advisory report before other stakeholders are brought in. This is scary stuff.

    Personally, I think the people they interviewed were trying to be polite and when they alluded to leadership problems, they were really talking about the administration, not the midshipmen. But they didn't want to come right out and point fingers so the interviewers got the wrong impression.

    KP leadership is still strong DESPITE the current problems. I put KP graduates equal or above any other service academy. The proof is in the results. The other poster was correct: show me the stats that say otherwise. They are trying to fix something that isn't broken. In the meantime, other priorities languish. Very frustrating!

    YES and why is everyone quiet on this? They are about to ruin our school. We need to at least try to fight this.
     
  5. Mman5247

    Mman5247 Member

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  6. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    Great commentary on the report by Dr. Cartner - well worth the 7 1/2 minutes of time to watch. His finish is what I'm talking about when I say USMMA is different and as a graduate I don't want to be lumped in or try to be the same as the other Academies. Also, I highlight, he clearly sees and agrees that unlike some feel, this report and Secretary Foxx's directives to the Superintendent are far, far from a rubber stamp.

    Adding to his thoughts, or emphasizing if you think some of the thought is already in Dr. Cartner's commentary, some of the areas where the report is lacking may be due to the lack of direct participation by a few more members, on a day to day basis, who have and are directly involved in leadership positions in the global maritime industry. That's why I advocate ADDING a few more of those types of people to the Advisory Board in addition to it's current dedicated and auspicious membership.

    :thumb:
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
  7. Privateer

    Privateer Member

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    Finally got around to looking at some of this and wish I had sooner. as others have noted its by far the most important issue on here.

    I am not an alum but i always admired the KP AA; it has been a force of nature for decades. It worries me that the Academy (or more likely some organ of DOT) is increasingly marginalizing it.

    I'm always skeptical when I see "more leadership training needed" in the context of maritime training. Let Annapolis be Annapolis and KP be KP. Not to knock the Navy, but these benighted initiatives seem to have their origins in the bureaucratic nether-regions of the USN.

    KP turns out leaders appropriate to its mission. Holding office on a commercial ship with a crew of 22 is a different leadership matter than office on a warship with up to 6200 souls aboard.

    How exactly do you teach such additional leadership? More drill/marching at the expense of practical navigation or engineering? What does it all mean and what is this "reform" they are planning?

    Please don't mess with what works, and works well.
     
  8. 420sailor

    420sailor Member

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    Well said. It will most definitely be at the expense of core mission and sounds like they want to add more liberal arts classes. They are even talking about semesters again. By the way, leadership is part of the syllabus of many of the classes and is one of the core learning objectives. So not only is leadership taught in the regiment and through sea year, it's also already part of the academics. If they insisted on making a change, they could leave the curriculum basically untouched and figure out how to carve out a leadership grading system from the components that are already in place. The academic Dean, who sailed for many years, is a Master Mariner, also served as acting superintendent 3 separate times, is NOT on board with this. That speaks volumes, don't you think?

    I recommend everyone write to Secretary Foxx as suggested by the Alumni Association.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  9. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    The problem I saw with leadership training at KP is that you have three different training venues but each operates in a vacuum.

    We had classroom lectures, practical "training" through the regiment and then real world training at sea. That's great in theory, but there was no coherence between the three and nothing that integrated the three.

    I learned some very valuable leadership lessons at sea, but those lessons were discarded with much derision in the classroom by an instructor whose whole curriculum seemed to be "I'm a Marine so I am always right". I thought the regiment was a valuable laboratory to try and fail at leadership but there was no mentorship and you were left to figure out the lesson on your own. I know I never got any help from my Company Officer. Incidentally, I got much farther as a Navy CO by applying the lessons I learned during sea year and using that Marine as an example of what not to do.

    A problem I see is that the Commandants staff doesn't include Company Officers with real world experience. When they are all ex-military you are only getting one viewpoint to apply in a world where most graduates don't go.
     
  10. 420sailor

    420sailor Member

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    KPEngineer, thanks for your response. I wish your thoughts were represented on the team that has this directive. Somehow, I doubt they are going in that direction. I think KP turns out an excellent product, despite some flaws in the system. However, is there room for improvement? Of course. I fear this is not about getting substantive improvements but just a means to check the box declare success and earn some political points. Sadly, the outcome may well result in a weakening of the academy and watering down of its mission therefore leading to marginalization.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  11. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    Over in two groups in LinkedIn on this topic with the usual interesting and healthy debate one usually finds in them:

    - USMMA Alumni & Foundation Group on LinkedIn:

    https://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?...oups_most_popular-0-b-ttl&goback=.gmp_5153665


    - Kings Point Alumni Group in LinkedIn:

    https://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?...65766584324&trk=groups_items_see_more-0-b-ttl


    Both discussions/threads offer a lot of food for thought of the two the first stays much closer to the topic and discussions here, the second while wandering close to some of additional thoughts relative to the changes needed in a broader sense to keep USMMA and MARAD more relevant in it's support for a vibrant US Merchant Marine also is 85+% on this topic with it's discussions on the contents in the report.

    I post them here to offer an alternative to looking on GCaptain as often when discussions of USMMA are held on GCaptain there's a lot of "baggage" along with the good thought, (At least IMO) on the topic of USMMA's relevance and how to make it better. :)
     
  12. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    Unless you are looking for insight into the offshore/inland sectors of the Maritime Industry I don't find a lot of use for GCaptain beyond entertainment.

    It is particularly entertaining when some of KP's harshest critics there are incognito KPers and reading their sycophantic "chesters" me too postings while not realizing.
     
  13. beyond

    beyond KπΣ15'

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    Are you telling me you know who c.captain is?
     
  14. SpadGuy

    SpadGuy Member

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  15. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    As you know its a small school. It's not hard to know who it is.
     

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