Full accreditation has been restored to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, nearly a year and a half after it was placed on warning for missing five of 14 academic benchmarks, academy officials said.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a Philadelphia-based nongovernmental group that assesses the performance of educational institutions, acted to remove the warning on Nov. 16, citing the school’s compliance with standards for institutional planning and the allocation of its resources, according to a Middle States letter to the academy that was published on the school’s website Monday.
Middle States placed the academy — which trains students for careers on oceangoing cargo ships and other deep-sea vessels — on warning in June 2016 for various issues, including problems with the school’s handling of sexual misconduct. A year later, the commission cited the academy for improvement in four of the five standards — including its handling of sexual misconduct issues — and conducted a follow-up visit in September of this year.
Retired Rear Adm. Mark Buzby — an MMA graduate who leads the Maritime Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation agency that oversees the school — said in a statement Monday that he learned the academy “has once again received full accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.”
The statement noted that “the success of the Academy at every level is one of my highest priorities, and this announcement is confirmation that the US Merchant Marine Academy is getting back on course for providing a world-class educational experience to our future leaders.”
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who chairs the USMMA’s congressional oversight panel called the Board of Visitors, said in a statement: “This reaccreditation is a tribute to the Kings Point Administrators and the reforms which have been made with the input of dedicated Alumni. I am proud to have worked with the Academy during these tough times.”
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), a Board of Visitors member whose district includes the academy, said, “This is a step in the right direction for the Merchant Marine Academy. As we all know, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done and I look forward to continuing my work on the Board of Visitors . . . to ensure the Academy remains the premiere institution of maritime education in the United States.”
The Middle States report conducted after a Sept. 21-22 visit credits the school for fixing its budgeting process and other financial achievements. The report states that USMMA “is to be commended for the significant effort devoted to responding to the Middle States concerns, and for the many accomplishments implemented in the relatively short time-frame spanning only three months.”
Middle States recommends that USMMA finish its strategic plan, promote institutional transparency, and implement a proposed assessment process for better allocation of academy resources.
Middle States also has requested that USMMA provide a monitoring report due Sept. 1, 2018. Middle States’ next accreditation evaluation visit is scheduled for the 2024-25 academic year.