Sept. 1, 2016

Dear Maritime College Community,

The start of classes last week marked the beginning of a new academic year. Even after more than 30 years in higher education, I eagerly look forward to the return of our students and faculty to campus. This year promises to be another great one at Maritime College.

Empire State VI: Moored!

Hundreds of relatives and friends gathered on campus Aug. 8 to welcome back our Empire State VI and its crew. After their 45 or 90 days at sea, the cadets stepped off the ship with more knowledge, skills and confidence than ever before. We are proud of them and their efforts to stand watch, conduct repairs and perform the maintenance that helps to keep the Empire State in such good shape. Thanks to our alumni and friends who responded to our annual appeals for donations to the Sallyport Fund, four bridge simulators were installed on board just before the ship departed in May. These simulators provided the deck students with much-needed additional opportunities to exercise their bridge management skills.

For the outgoing and return trip, we owe many thanks to McAllister Towing and Transportation and the Sandy Hook Pilots Association, who generously donated their services. Thanks also to Sven van Batavia ’80 and Miller’s Launch for arranging launch boats to get us from Staten Island to the Empire State at no charge.

An impressive class of MUGs

Despite one of the hottest and most humid Augusts in memory, this year’s MUG indoctrination class impressed all of us with their hard work and dedication. They performed exceptionally well on the MUG knowledge test, earning a 97 percent pass rate, and had the highest retention rate ever at nearly 98 percent. With more focused admissions efforts and through the efforts of our outstanding IDOs and squad leaders, the days when too many students do not make it through indoc are gone.

They learned the history and traditions of the college, the sea-survival and boat-handling skills that will help keep them safe, and completed their physical training during a 10-day period when they were under a black flag 60 percent of the time. Our indoc and squad leaders were flexible and adjusted the schedule as necessary. In doing so, they taught another important lesson of life at sea – not everything goes as planned.

We are delighted to have this group at Maritime College and excited to watch them grow and develop through the education and training they will receive in the classroom, in the lab and at sea.

The Class of 2020

In keeping with our talented class of MUGs, the full freshman class is an impressive group.

The class of 2020 is more academically talented and diverse than past years. The average SAT score was 1127, a jump of 11 points over last year. The class has the highest percentage of women and under-represented minorities in the history of the college. Diligent work from our Admissions staff and a group of alumnae ambassadors deserve our thanks and credit for the jumps. To read more about the efforts of our female graduates, read the story in the new issue of the Navigator.

More students are choosing to stay at Maritime as well. The college first-year retention rate has increased to 87 percent, seven points above the national average for four-year public institutions.

Once again, the dormitories and the regiment are full, and with some focused efforts from Admissions, enrollment in our under-enrolled programs has increased, including marine environmental science and international transportation and trade.

Planning for our future

Just before students returned, faculty and staff kicked off the academic year with the annual convocation to prepare for the coming year. The daylong gathering included a presidential welcome and report, and a dynamic keynote speaker, Paul Little, the CEO and principal of City of Glasgow College, which includes the Glasgow College of Nautical Studies.

Convocation was the official kick-off for the college strategic planning process, which I will keep you updated on. As a first step, I have appointed a committee of faculty, students, staff and administrators. I anticipate the planning process will continue throughout the year and include an environmental scan of the maritime industry to assist us in setting the college’s course for the next five years.

Mr. Little discussed the evolution and implementation of his college’s strategic plan and how his institution adapted to anticipate coming changes to the maritime industry. He also spoke of the need to consider the rapid pace of technological change, from autonomous vessels, to the enhanced need for cybersecurity, the growing integration of ship systems and the increased reliance on “big data.” We will keep these changes in mind as we begin to discuss what Maritime College should be and how it must develop and adapt.

As always, many thanks to all of your for your feedback and support of the college. 

All the best,

Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, USMS, Ph.D.


SUNY Maritime College