President's Watch

Charting Our Course

Reflections on MMA’s past, present, and future from President Dr. William J. Brennan

William J. Brennan

MMA President
Dr. William J. Brennan

I recently took a brief trip back in time, looking through the issues of the Mariner we’ve published over the past 11 years and re-reading what it is that I have said to you in the President’s Watch. In those 28 issues that have been crafted, there are stories of amazing success achieved by MMA alumni and inspiring stories about our students. I am truly fortunate to have been able to get to know so many wonderful people associated with this little gem of a college. It struck me as I re-read these articles from my vantage point today that, first and foremost, it has been about people, about communication, and a conversation of sorts about the Academy – about matters both profound and sublime, and of course a host of other matters of business or of general interest. I stumbled briefly when I came to the issue reflecting upon the difficult emotions we all felt over the loss of the El Faro and her crew, which included five of our shipmates. I also felt the poignancy about the fragility of life in the story about a lone sailor rescued by the crew and cadets aboard the TSSOM. We talked about the reputation of our alumni and the underlying value in the diploma and licenses our graduates obtain because of that reputation – a reputation that continues to be enhanced because of our ability to adapt to changing circumstances and to evolve as necessary. The strength of character and the dedication to superior performance of our alumni, spanning many generations, have brought distinction to MMA over the past 80 years.

We have talked about how we continuously strive to improve and provide our students with the greatest opportunity to succeed while they are here so they can be successful in their career and hopefully in their lives. We work hard to operate in a fiscally sound manner to keep costs under control while, at the same time, engaging with very generous alumni whose spirit of philanthropy has reached incredible heights, enabling any young woman or man who wants an MMA education the opportunity regardless of their financial circumstance. We are one community, one family, and we have helped each other overcome many obstacles, committed as we are to positive career outcomes for our students and enriching the lives of so many young people.

I owe a debt of gratitude to all of you who are part of this community for letting me be part of the honor and tradition that is the foundation of Maine Maritime Academy. As I prepare to turn over the helm, I’ll pass along two small words spoken by Admiral Dismukes back in the early days of MMA: “Carry on.” Carry on to honor and respect our history and keep traditions alive for new students, our community, and friends, but strike a balance while looking ahead, planning for the future and taking advantage of new opportunities. We are all the richer for the connections that MMA has helped us create and we have a sense of pride and a genuine affinity for a place that has helped shape so many people, including both my wife Heather and me.

I am truly fortunate to have been able to get to know so many wonderful people associated with this little gem of a college.

As I bring this President’s Watch to a close, I am reminded that the past two years have been among the most challenging the Academy has confronted in its history, an existential threat brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. I recognize that in a pluralistic society such as ours, the opportunity for unanimity of opinion is remote and I value diversity of opinions. But I am gratified that so many of our students and employees have accepted their responsibility to their shipmates and have taken meaningful steps to protect themselves and others against the threat of infection. We Mariners are a resourceful and resilient bunch, with an unwavering resolve to keep focused, to stay safe, and to do what needs to be done to carry out our mission. We are on the right course and we will emerge from this challenge strengthened and more resilient. With each year that passes, as more graduates become members of the Alumni Association, the keepers of our heritage continue to grow and I have no doubt that the future for this college, of Maine Maritime Academy, will be bright.

William J. Brennan, President