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USMMA-MARAD Call-In Town Hall Answers Parents and Alumni Questions from Shore to Shore – Recording Online

KINGS POINT, N.Y., June 9, 2016 – Leaders of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point answered stakeholders’ questions at the fourth USMMA call-in town hall, conducted from the Patterson Room at the Academy’s Wiley Hall, May 26. The call-in recording is online under related links.

Deputy Maritime Administrator, Michael J. Rodriguez ’79, and Superintendent, Rear Adm. James A. Helis, USMS, Ph.D., provided updates and took questions from parents, alumni, and other stakeholders from the Atlantic and Pacific shores, the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes, and many dry places in between.

Rodriguez updated listeners on MARAD’s priorities, discussed the development of a comprehensive National Maritime Strategy, the recapitalization of MARAD’s training ships and the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV).  Rodriguez also spoke about the improving relations with the US Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association and Foundation (AAF), saying, “I thank them for their cooperation, making themselves available to speak with us on how we move forward to strengthen the Academy.  I was very happy to address their board at the end of April, when they were all here.”

Helis updated callers on planning for Class of 2016 graduation and Class of 2020 indoctrination.  He provided updates on his four priorities, upgrading infrastructure and facilities, the accreditation process, the leadership development program, and sexual assault / sexual harassment prevention.  Lastly he discussed progress on improving the Academy’s hiring process.

The first caller, Chris Bahret ’87, asked about the Board of Visitors.  The speakers provided an update on new members and plans for the next meeting to be held in Washington D.C., June 14.

In response to a question from Peter Rackett ’61 about the prep program, Helis clarified how the program works and discussed the minimum academic standards to enter the program and start at the Academy. 

Parent Diane Keyes asked about campus security.  Helis detailed the Academy’s security posture, and provided an update on additional camera installations.  “Safety and security is a top priority for us, for the midshipmen, for the staff and faculty and for the campus, and again, continuing to upgrade and improve that is one of the priorities within improving the infrastructure of the Academy.”

USMMA National Parents Association President Thomas Wesley asked the speakers to address the future of the Regimental Band.  Helis and Rodriguez emphasized that the future of the band is assured.  “The band is absolutely key part of the Regiment and the culture at the Academy,” said Helis, noting that they “are some of our greatest ambassadors.”

The Academy holds call-in town hall sessions every trimester.  To receive an invitation, please sign up for the USMMA Newsletter at and select the “MARAD KP Newsletter.”

By Cmdr. Benjamin Benson, USMS

Updated: Thursday, June 9, 2016
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