A thriving merchant marine is not a luxury--it's an absolute necessity for a strong national and economic security. So we've worked hard to restore the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY, as one of our nation's great service academies.
There's no question that our students, faculty, and families are second to none, but there is still more work to be done. And to help us tackle this work and ensure that Kings Point continues along its path toward a strong future, I am pleased to appoint retired Colonel James Helis as the next Superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Col. Helis is an accomplished leader with both a military and an academic background. He is a graduate of West Point who served our country for 30 years in the U.S. Army--including as an Army Ranger--and also earned a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. And since 2004, he has served as Chair of the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College.
The rich history of service Col. Helis brings to Kings Point is a terrific complement to our goal of training and educating tomorrow's maritime leaders. And his experience in leadership development will be a great asset to the Academy.
I know that Col. Helis is ready to hit the ground running when he joins the Academy next month. When asked about his plans for Kings Point, he said finalizing the strategic plan would be his "first priority" and acknowledged the input of the faculty, students, alumni, and industry experts who contributed to the work so far, calling it "the roadmap we use as we move forward."
Maritime Administrator David Matsuda and I think that's a great way for James Helis to start his tenure at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and we hope you'll join us in wishing Col. Helis a hearty, "Welcome aboard."