Joe Belluck, a member of the State University of New York Board of Trustees, officially participated in the inauguration of Dr. Michael Alfultis, Rear Admiral in the United State Maritime Service, as the eleventh president of the Maritime College of the State University of New York (SUNY). The ceremony also celebrated the College’s 140th anniversary.
Dr. Alfultis graduated with honors from the Coast Guard Academy in 1982. Following graduation, he was assigned to Guam and served as an operations officer aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Basswood. Alfultis then went on to earn advanced degrees in Oceanography from the University of Washington (M.S., 1987) and the University of Rhode Island (Ph.D., 1997) before returning to the Academy in 1989 as a member of its science department faculty.
Alfultis earned the Academy’s Distinguished Faculty Award in in 2009 and retired from the Coast Guard in 2010, a year in which he also began his tenure as the chief administrative officer of the UCONN Avery Point regional campus.
The appointment of Alfultis to the Maritime College presidency took place on June 17, 2014, and he began presidential duties on July 14.
The November 7 ceremony was attended by a full procession of cadets as well as prestigious guests who included Captain Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, the Administrator of the United States Maritime Administration, Captain Timothy Ferrie, President of the Marine Society of the City of New York, and SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.
Belluck helped install the new President of the Maritime College by helping present Dr. Alfultis with his presidential medal. Addressing the attendees, Belluck told them that he was honored to be at the inauguration both because of the wonderful history of the Maritime College and because he had represented many alumni of the school who were exposed to asbestos aboard merchant marine ships.
The Maritime College of the State University of New York was founded in 1874 and is the nation’s oldest and largest maritime academy. Its graduates, many of whom are marine engineers, have assumed leadership positions throughout the maritime industry. Located in Fort Schuyler, at the intersection of the East River and Long Island Sound, the college trains many of the nation’s merchant mariners.
The Maritime College has historically had training ships where cadets and students learned how to operate and maintain ships. These ships have included the Empire State II, Empire State III and Empire State IV. Cadets and students typically participate in a Summer Sea Term to learn the fundamentals of marine operation and maintenance.
Among the first year goals of Dr. Alfultis is replacing the 50-year-old training ship Empire State IV. He also wants to increase retention and graduation rates and increase campus diversity by appealing to more out-of-state students and veterans.
Belluck & Fox, LLP has represented many merchant marines who sailed on the Empire State ships and then went on to careers at numerous shipping companies. Many of these merchant mariners were exposed to asbestos in the engine and boiler room of ships – particularly while maintaining pumps, valves, boilers, turbines and other equipment. Today, the Maritime College is a leader in environmental protection.
If you sailed in the merchant marines and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, contact Belluck & Fox, LLP for a free consultation. They are very familiar with the maritime industry and can help protect you and your family.