Johansson named SUNY Distinguished Service Professor

Thursday, May 04, 2017

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Johansson named SUNY Distinguished Service Professor

Capt. Eric Johansson, professor of marine transportation and vice-chair of the professional education and training department at SUNY Maritime College, has been named a distinguished service professor by the State University of New York.

Capt. Johansson has been at SUNY Maritime since 1994, after serving as a captain and master on tugboats, salvage vessels and as a pilot of unlimited tonnage ships.

“Professor Johansson is highly regarded by his peers within higher education and the maritime industry,” said Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, president of SUNY Maritime. “His contributions have had, and will continue to have, a long-lasting, positive impact on our students, the environment and the economy.”

On campus, Capt. Johansson serves as a guide and mentor to students and has sat on or chaired several college committees. He has also published and presented research funded by and created for industry, including on offshore wind development, barge traffic studies and international safety management development and implementation.

But his strengths lie in bringing the college and the industry together.

“His positive change to the industry and to Maritime College developed from years of relationship building, at the generous expense of his own time,” said Dr. Joseph Hoffman, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs. “Eric doesn’t just join committees, he leads them, as evidenced by the overwhelming number of nominated chair positions that have directly resulting in support from the industry to the college.”

Capt. Johansson has served on several committees for the U.S. Coast Guard, nominated to participate in the Coast Guard Port and Waterway Safety Assessment, and served as vice chair of the Towing Safety Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. Secretary of Transportation through the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. He was also chair of the energy subcommittee of the New York Harbor operations safety and navigation committee.

“In these leadership roles, he has had to coordinate with numerous federal, state and local regulatory and non-government organizations on far-reaching safety and environmental issues,” said Rear Adm. Alfultis. “He is an excellent facilitator and negotiator who can bring diverse groups to consensus.”

Seventeen years ago, he began the college’s annual Towing Forum, designed to bring together industry professionals and experts to discuss changes and challenges facing the tug, towboat and barge industry.

He started the college’s Associate Degree in Marine Technology/Small Vessel Operations program, and the program has grown to be increasingly attractive to prospective employers and several companies have given it financial support, including a $1 million gift from Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc., to establish the Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc., Simulation Center, which includes three state-of-the-art bridge simulators to train mariners to operate tugs and barges.

Though New York City is home to one of the busiest ports in the nation, the maritime industry remains relatively unknown.

To that end, Capt. Johansson has worked to introduce students of all ages to the opportunities and careers that it offers. He is the director of the Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler, which dozens of school and youth groups visit every year. He is also the founder and a member of the New York Harbor School’s professional advisory committee and works with the McKee Technical School on Staten Island and the city’s School of Global Commerce. He volunteers his time to run the college’s full-mission bridge simulators for high-school camps.

The distinguished professorship is a prestigious tenured SUNY rank bestowed only on those who have consistently demonstrated outstanding service or teaching. It is a rank above that of full professor and can only be conferred by the State University of New York board of trustees.

Capt. Johansson is the sixth distinguish professor at SUNY Maritime. Three other faculty members have been named distinguished service professors: Dr. Karen Markoe, chair of the humanities department; Dr. Barbara Warkentine, science professor; and Dr. Shmuel Yahalom, professor of global business and transportation. There are two distinguished teaching professors at Maritime: Dr. Joseph Hoffman, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, and math professor; and Dr. Hartley Spatt, emeritus professor of humanities.