United States Merchant Marine Academy Parents’ Association
September 4, 2008
Parents’ Coordinator Shirley Anthony welcomed Local Chapter Presidents and Regional Vice Presidents to the 17 th
Annual Parents’ Association Presidents’ Conference. She introduced Lynne Grandstaff as the recording secretary.
Clayton Vignocci (KP) was introduced and welcomed home from Iraq. Shirley introduced National Co-Chairs Ann Hall
and Mary Silva.
Co-Chairs Hall and Silva thanked the attendees and noted their intent to stay closely to the published agenda. They
circulated sign up sheets for Committee Assignments and for questions to be discussed during the business portion
of the meeting. Ann Hall introduced CAPT Robert Larsen (KP '72), Director Office of Public Affairs. CAPT Larsen
welcomed the group and thanked them for their work with their local associations. He also thanked Shirley for her
work. CAPT Larsen introduced CAPT Eric Wallischeck, Assistant Superintendent for Plans, Assessment and Public
Affairs and Acting Chief of Staff.
CAPT Wallischeck thanked the group for their work on behalf of Kings Point. He noted that much change has and is
taking place. He reassured the parents that the change “will not be negatively disruptive to the Midshipmen.”
CAPT Wallischeck noted the comment of Commencement speaker that KP is the “most maritime of all the
academies.” He reviewed the results for the Class of 2008- 67% are employed at sea, 23% are on active duty, 10%
are employed ashore and 1% are attending Graduate school.
CAPT Wallischeck entertained questions. Topics addressed included VADM Stewart’s retirement and selection
process for his replacement, Assignment of Captain to TV Kings Pointer, funding, financial issues and money
management, GAO, Athletics and Waterfront, conversion of coaching positions to Civil Service Positions based on
required sports for NCAA status. The group requested Talking Points for frequently asked questions. The
presidents will reach a consensus on which questions to address. CAPT Wallischeck addressed the renewed
emphasis on USMMA graduates going to sea. He noted that KP’s primary mission is to send people to work at sea.
CAPT Wallischeck introduced VADM Stewart who welcomed the group and expressed his appreciation of their
work and presence. He gave a Power Point presentation about current issues and concerns of interest to parents.
Topics reviewed included: Congressional Board of Visitors who met for the first time since 1992. CAPT Wallischeck
and VADM Stewart met the group in Washington, D.C. The group will meet again on October 2, 2008 at the
academy. The Presidents’ group requested guidance on topics for letters to be written prior to that visit.
Suggested topics included the Mission of USMMA, funding challenges, achieving equal standards at all academies,
Global shortage of mariners, need for the presence of U.S. mariners on all vessels entering U.S. harbors for
security, the potential to increase enrollment if capital funds allow completion of all barracks. The Board of
Visitors can be a positive influence on behalf of KP. VADM Stewart reviewed the Capital Improvements being done
and those being planned. Palmer Hall is complete. Murphy Hall will be the next barracks to be renovated. The Navy
Exchange is now operating what was the Ships Store. A portion of profits will be paid to USMMA. Parents, Alumni
and Staff will also be allowed to shop there. The former varsity shop will be converted to the cleaners. A beauty
parlor will be added to the facility. The 2009 President’s Budget and the budget process were reviewed, as were
the challenges being faced related to capital funding.
The presentation also included information about athletics, Class of 2008 statistics, the Alumni Foundation, Capital
Improvements completed and planned for the future. The group received a printed list of the members of the
Board of Visitors. Mary Jane Fuschetto spoke for the group, thanking VADM Stewart for the positive
improvements that have occurred at USMMA during his tenure. The group recognized VADM Stewart with a
The Power Point presentation is available on line at the Parent's Page of the Academy's web site. VADM Stewart
extended an invitation to the group to attend the reception at Quarters A prior to dinner at Melville Hall.
Dr. Shashi Kumar, Academic Dean was introduced. He expressed his thanks to the group for their commitment and
service to the academy. He congratulated them on the accomplishment of being a KP Parent. With regard to the
past year, Dean Kumar quoted Achilles, “ We cannot direct events, but we can adjust our sails.” He said the past
year has been spent making sail adjustments. He assured the parents that the events of the past year have had no
impact on academics in general. The USMMA was ranked 4th best in North East for the year, has the 4 th best
graduation rate and is 34th best engineering school in the nation. Dr. Kumar noted that 100% of the Class of 2008
passed the Coast Guard Licensing Exam prior to graduation. He spent time discussing the current trends in the
Maritime industry, the extreme shortage of officers worldwide, significant increases in salaries and in the number
of ships and positions anticipated in the next several years. Dr. Kumar discussed the comprehensive review of
USMMA Curriculum, communication between students, staff and Dean Kumar and the academic alert system.
CDR William Fell, Acting Commandant was introduced to the group. He shared his past history at the academy and
his current responsibilities. He reviewed the current enrollment, his philosophy of leadership- “work smarter, not
harder” and the ultimate goals of instilling qualities needed by officers- leadership, self-discipline and standards of
excellence. He discussed challenges faced by Plebes in prioritizing activities, upcoming events including Acceptance
Day, Homecoming and the Inaugural Parade in January. He discussed efforts to ensure diversity in the regiment by
seeking out qualified applicants. He answered questions regarding regimental positions, and counseling efforts in
response to potential dropouts.
The group recessed for lunch with the Regiment and a group photo taken on the steps of Delano Hall. Plans were
shared for tokens of appreciation to be presented to VADM Stewart on his retirement.
The group reconvened at 1300.
CAPT Joe Poliseno, Assistant Head, Department of Marine Engineering was introduced. He reviewed the
engineering program of USMMA, the survey of employers being conducted, internships, capstone projects and
directed studies. CAPT Poliseno answered questions about optional classes and the aeronautical engineering class.
The Presidents requested revisions to the Engineering brochure to describe the courses in a way that will appeal to
students seeking engineering degrees who are less familiar with Marine engineering,
CAPT Robert Johnson, Director of Admissions was introduced. He gave a power point presentation: “We Deliver”
and discussed the affect of funding cuts on his department. He reviewed the Steps to Admission for the Class of
2012. He encouraged those present to attend the Admissions Field Rep training on September 5.
Susan Petersen-Lubow, Director of Athletics was introduced. She discussed the recent conversion of 13 coaching
positions to Civil Service Employees. She answered questions about current and possible future sports, intramurals
and club sports. She referred the group to usmmasports.com for team schedules.
CAPT M.J. Sweeney, USN (Ret), USAA was introduced. She talked to the group about the services offered to
MIDN by USAA. She noted that membership is lifetime. USAA makes a gift to the MWR Fund at all academies,
sponsors the CG/KP football game, offers low interest unsecured loans to 1/c and 2/c MIDN up to 1 year after
their commission date and insurance services by phone or internet.
Ivy Suter, Alumni Foundation Chair and John Connolly, Alumni Foundation President were introduced. Also present
from the Foundation were Peter Racket and Jim Tobin. Mr. Connolly reviewed recent changes in the Foundation
leadership and process. He explained the recent organizational changes, audit, job responsibilities of the President
and C.O.O. Connolly also noted the events hosted by the Foundation including Homecoming, Superintendent’s
Council, two 5K’s, Luau for the Firsties, Lanier Lecture Series, Blue and Gray Golf Tournaments. He discussed the
importance of a solid program of fundraising in demonstrating success to the various constituencies- parents,
alumni and business sponsors. The group received an organizational chart, list of Chapter Presidents and a volunteer
form. Ms. Suter thanked Pete, Ann and Mary for their participation on the Foundation Board of Directors. She
noted that the Foundation also provides a “lobbying arm” to help increase the budget of USMMA. The Foundation
has received approval to organize a retirement dinner for VADM Stewart. It will be at Melville Hall on September
24, 2008. Seating will be limited to 200. Ms. Suter and Mr. Connolly answered questions about the Phone-a-thon,
letter writing, the forensic audit of the foundation, current governance and oversight of Foundation funds.
Ann Hall and Mary Silva led the Association Business Session. They reviewed the questions turned in by the group.
The Distinguished Chapter Award scoring procedure was discussed. It was suggested that additional activities be
added and that the scores be adjusted to more accurately reflect the time and energy required. These changes
would require a change in the bylaws and the handbook. Shirley requested that suggested changes be sent to her
by email. The bylaws committee will review the suggestions and present a suggested revision. It was noted that any
specifics that might need frequent revision could be put into Standing Rules which can be more readily revised and
do not require advance notice.
All Academy Balls were discussed. One attendee has been unable to make contact with her state’s planning
It was suggested that a newsletter for State Presidents and Regional Vice Presidents be developed to improve
The possibility of a directory for all midshipmen and their families was discussed. A motion was made, seconded
and carried by voice vote to investigate the feasibility of a directory and to develop a directory as able.
Banking procedures for Local Chapters were discussed in response to a question about how to handle donations.
A motion was made to authorize Shirley Anthony and the Bylaws Committee to revise the Distinguished Chapter
Requirements and bring to the next Presidents’ Conference. The motion was seconded and carried by voice vote.
Suggestions for talking to senators, congressmen and representatives were discussed.
Barbara Heine, NY Parents Association President thanked those who have made donations to the NY Chapter. She
shared the events sponsored by that group in support of the Plebe Candidates, Plebes and Midshipmen. They
include Plebe Treats in October, Donuts each trimester for the regiment, Holiday Party in December with gifts,
decorations and food, Ice Cream Social and Third Tri- Ice Cream Truck. She requested donation of gifts for
distribution at the Holiday Party.
Sue Graboski spoke to the group about the Cookie Café. She encouraged all to participate as able in supporting the
efforts of Muffy Grinnell with baking or donations.
The MidAtlantic Club announced that they are selling Regimental Calendars as a fundraiser.
The group discussed concerns related to Alumni Parents and efforts to keep them involved particularly in clubs
with small memberships and low admissions.
The meeting adjourned at 1630.
Lynne Grandstaff (Gulf Region VP/Robert '08, Hugh '04)