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USMMA Operations Status: Normal

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Academic Center for Excellence

Academic Center for Excellence Vision

The ACE academic support program at the United States Merchant Marine Academy will be recognized for its focus on helping students succeed academically through cognitive skill development, decision making opportunities, academic intervention strategies, and projecting academic and professional success in the global Maritime Industry. This process is all inclusive as it addresses student needs, faculty development, and campus wide engagement to assure faculty retention and student success.

Mission Statement

The USMMA ACE will ensure that Academy Midshipmen have access to academic resources, skill development opportunities and counseling in support of their development while in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree, a United States Coast Guard license, and a reserve or active duty commission. The ACE works with students, professors, mentors, coaches, tutors, the registrar, admissions, administration, the department of informational technology, the department for institutional assessment, and the regimental staff to support the Academy’s Academic Division’s goals.

In support of the college learning community that is USMMA, the ACE is dedicated to supporting and developing faculty with their teaching using inclusive, student-centered learning and teaching practices. In support of faculty in their teaching the ACE is available to help with course design, integrating technologies effectively for face-to-face teaching, and providing the immediacy of feedback remotely, as well as redesigning assessments.

The ACE works with the Office of the Provost to:

  • Develop the schedule for the Annual Professional Development Day before each academic year
  • Onboard New faculty as part of the New Faculty Orientation Process to understand policies, resources, and student support structures
  • Provide, Create, and Support Execution of the Coffee and Conversations with Colleagues Monthly Collaboration Sessions to Support First Year students
  • Serves as the CAST committee to address concerns across the community when it comes to the execution of the course material that make up the academic curriculum.
  • Identifies in Partnership with the other Federal Service Academies cross community concerns for monthly Professional Development Collaboration Sessions to support the advancement of teaching and learning.  

Director of the Academic Center for Excellence

Captain Paul D. Acquaro, United States Maritime Service and United States Navy, Retired

CAPT Paul D. Acquaro

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.

Now Accepting Applications for the Class of 2029