Covid-19 Memo to Cadets from the Admiral

(18 March 2020)

To: The Regiment of Cadets
Subject: Covid-19 Memo to Cadets


I write today because I need your help. As you well know, we are facing a pandemic so severe that it has upset every aspect of life as we know it... including here at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

I want to let you know that this Academy - and its Regiment of Cadets - have been tested before. We had a shipboard fire that took the life of a shipmate right here at our own dock. In fact, for the next four years we survived as a Maritime Academy with no ship at all. We have had shipboard boiler malfunction that delayed graduation well into the summer one year. And on the afternoon of 9/11, I sat on the front stairs at Bresnahan Hall wondering if I should just go home or if I should just sit there as a nation stood paralyzed by a horrific terrorist attack. Within two weeks of that attack, the Regiment of Cadets deployed cadet volunteers to New York City to help in any possible way they could.

Regiment of Cadets, this is your test... and I have every confidence that you will stand up and, not only make the most of it, but thrive. And while you do, I give you my word on a couple key points … you will get there ... and we will work our asses off to get you there.

Moving forward, seniors, please be aware of what you need to graduate - each course, each STCW assessment, each specific requirement. You have to be on top of all of this, in fact, you have to own your individual requirements.

Underclass, pay close attention to this transition to an online format.  It will not be perfect as we roll it out. It will present more challenges than simply getting up for morning formation and walking to class, to be certain, but I am confident in your ability to get it done. Check in with you faculty frequently and dedicate the time necessary to do the job.

Cadets, you will hear via a separate communication from Academy Provost, CAPT Brigid Pavilonis NLT 20 March regarding the rollout of this online/distance learning transition. Further, the Academy website will be updated by week’s end as well. Please get ready to go to work.

Looking over the bow, we are facing headwinds and rough seas. There is no doubt that it will be a bumpy ride but please know that your faculty are working tirelessly to deliver the academic program in every creative format they can think of. Please also know that the entire staff is meeting daily, sometimes hourly, to find the best path for each and every one of you.

Given the astonishing response by the faculty, staff and Regiment in the face of this unprecedented challenge, I stand today quite proud of all that we have accomplished to date and remain exceedingly optimistic about the coming months. I must tell you I am looking forward to a grand Change of Command and even a grander Commencement. You all deserve it.

As my predecessor and mentor RADM Maurice Bresnahan often said “If you doubt the mettle of the next generation of young people, spend a few minutes talking to our cadets and your confidence will be restored”.

As I asked each of you in the class meetings last week, please look out for each other as shipmates ... and today I ask you to go even further. Please look out for family, loved ones, neighbors and, yes, even strangers.

Thank you for your incredible understanding, your unwavering commitment to this academy and your unrelenting spirit of cooperation.

Lastly, if you find yourself in a jam with no place to turn, call me - any day, any time. My office line is 508-830-5001 and my cell is 508-XXX-XXXX. Go Bucs!

My kindest regards,
RADM Francis X. McDonald