WHEN I PREPARED my remarks for the winter edition of Mariner, we were planning to hold a Spring 2021 term on the Castine campus preceded by two weeks of remote instruction. We have succeeded with this plan, and as I write these words, we are 75% through our face-to-face instruction.
There are countless people to thank for their commitment to MMA’s mission of providing a quality education for our students. It was a community effort. We have many students who served as examples for others, enabling us to work through a very challenging semester with a focus on safety and flexibility.
I am pleased to report we will be hosting an in-person commencement for the Class of 2021 in early April. We want to recognize the hard work and sacrifice of this class and the faculty, and end their college experience as close to normal as we can.
As we prepare to move forward, much will look the same while being different. Given the condensed semester from 14 weeks to 12, final exams will be concluded on April 14. We did this in order to give our Regimental students the time needed to “catch-up” with their sea time. To that end, Cruise A on TSSOM will commence April 17 for 37 days. This will include the 1/C and 3/C students who were unable to sail last summer, thus it will be the last training evolution for our unlimited license seniors. May 23 will be the end of Cruise A, and US Coast Guard exams will follow on May 24-28 for those seniors. Cruise B will commence on July 8 following a quarantine period. The second cruise will conclude on August 13 and have aboard our 2/C and 4/C students. A subsequent part of this cruise will occur following the Fall 2021 term.
“Many students served as examples for others, enabling us to work through a challenging semester.”
Multiple cruises are set for Bowdoin from April – August. The Academy has also been working with shipping companies for billets aboard commercial vessels. We have two blocks of time for students to continue to meet the sea time expectations required by the USCG. This will have many of our students participating in both cruise and cadet shipping this summer.
Fall classes will commence August 23 with in-person instruction. The semester will again be condensed from 14 weeks to 12, giving us the flexibility to offer sea time and co-ops to those students who will require it. We plan to be back on track following this fall semester.
As I reflect upon this past year, I am mindful of the depth of despair so many around the world feel for the loss of loved ones, and I share their grief. But I am comforted knowing that, as the vaccine becomes more readily available and the number of cases continues to decline, we will be on the right course for our students in early 2022. There is no doubt that many aspects of our operation and business will never look the same. But the spirit that thrives here is one of dedication to our students and our mission, and it is unwavering. We will emerge from this challenge strengthened and more resilient. We are Mariners forever. We are the keepers of this heritage. I am proud of who we are, our people, our students, our community. I am proud of Maine Maritime Academy.█