LEADing Change

LEADing Change at Maritime College

As a public university and institution of higher education, Maritime College is making every effort to achieve a community that is anchored in respect, civility, and compassion – core values critical to the makeup of the College. While the free exchange of ideas is encouraged at Maritime College, it is important to note that hate speech tears apart the substance of the College identity and deeply harms every member of the campus community. The College strongly condemns all forms of racism, racist behavior and bias. 

During his time as U.S. President, Harry S. Truman underwent a personal transformation when he desegregated the U.S. armed forces on July 26, 1948. His executive order stated, “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” He also signed an executive order to desegregate the federal workforce on that same day.  This was monumental for a former military captain who supported segregation when he was elected president. Despite personal views formed during his upbringing in once pro-slavery Missouri, Truman understood that in order to defeat a common enemy the military could not be a house divided.  It would need to harness and promote the best talent, regardless of race or color. Although Maritime College is not immune to the broader fractures facing society today, and on some days the College will fall short of its goal, the Maritime College community response to all forms of racism is notably as important as President Truman’s. The College response should reflect dignity, civility and a collective resolve to make Maritime College a place where everyone is welcome and included. 

The following is a proposed framework that will LEAD to systemic changes at Maritime College to ensure it is a place where each person is valued.



First, we must listen. We must listen to each other with open minds. We must listen with an attitude of mutual respect.  We must learn to listen with an intent of understanding not only the words, but what is behind the words.

Every individual who makes up the fabric of the Maritime College community holds their own unique perspective and experience. The goal of listening is to hear the voices of those who have been silenced including our students of color, LGBTQ+, immigrants, first generation students, etc. Time must taken to understand these various experiences and perspectives if we are to recognize the value held by each member of the College community. 


Education is a continuous process and Maritime College supports the ongoing pursuit of knowledge as an academic institution.  Work will begin with Academic Departments to infuse topics on race, diversity, structural inequity, and multi-cultural awareness across the curriculum. The LEAD 101 curriculum will be reviewed to begin the discussion around these topics, and look for follow-on courses later in the curriculum to re-visit them. Changes to non-academic programming, as well as the curriculum, will be examined.

While freedom of speech is protected, it is not without consequences to individuals and institutions. Hateful and offensive speech does not align with the core values at Maritime College and is destructive to the very fabric of the community. Freedom of expression and the potential outcomes of free speech is a topic that will be further discussed as a campus community. 

The College will require those who harm the inclusive climate of the campus to repair the damage with the adoption of a restorative justice program. Restorative justice is a system that focuses on reconciliation with victims and the community rather than focusing on punishment. The program will be comprised of students, faculty, administrators, and staff who voluntarily serve to provide direct support to any individual impacted by prejudice-based aggression. This may include providing assistance with reporting bias, guidance through the investigative process, and access to safety and support resources. When appropriate, it may also include facilitating restorative conversations between affected parties to promote healing and learning outcomes

The various differences among all in the College community is what make each individual unique and valuable. On a regular basis, Anti-Bias education and training will be provided to the College community to better understand one another's differences and challenge stereotypes and other forms of discrimination.

Annual training for all faculty, staff, and students will be conducted on the reporting of harassment, bullying, and bias. The training will include the different mechanisms by which to report, what happens to a report, and what happens after a report.


All must be treated as members of a common community including those who come from races, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation and other protected categories and religious beliefs different from one's own.

A Campus Climate Task Force will be established to identify actions that must be taken to improve the climate and culture at Maritime College. This Task Force will include faculty, staff, and student representation from across the College, and will seek input from alumni and industry.

Actions must be deliberate regarding diversity and inclusion. While diversity enhances a campus climate, inclusion activates diversity and allows the campus climate to reach its full potential. Responsibility for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion does not reside solely in one office. Rather, it rests across all aspects of the campus. Accountability will be ensured at all levels. Campus administrators, faculty, and staff must all demonstrate they are advancing equity and diversity, eliminating bias, and ensuring an inclusive campus climate.

The College will review and revise, if necessary, all its policies and procedures for consistency and alignment with College’s Core values, as well as SUNY policy and State law.

The College will conduct a comprehensive review of the Regiment, including INDOC. This review will include input from external reviewers.

The College will provide support to those who were subjected to harassment, bullying, and bias.


There should be multiple venues for the College community to discuss the issues of diversity, race, and social-economic equality.

Individuals should be able to express their opinions in a respectful and civil manner, and others should similarly respect the opinions they express.

The status of systemic change at Maritime College must continually be discussed. Is progress being made in creating an inclusive climate and culture? Where is the College falling short? What additional actions need to be taken?

This is a continuous and cyclical process that requires all to be active participants in a critical time in history. It is an important first step in a journey towards enacting change through discussing, listening, further educating ourselves, and additional actions that will result in a respectful, inclusive, and compassionate community. 

Campus Climate Task Force

The Task Force is charged with offering specific recommendations on how the College can implement meaningful institutional change.  It is also charged with recommending approaches that enable an effective response to incidents of bigotry and intolerance.  Attached is a document describing the charge of the Task Force, which also details the expectations and deliverables of its members.  Each individual who makes up the Task Force must be dedicated to making improvements that lead toward the elimination of racism, bias and harassment at Maritime College.

Campus Climate Task Force Charge

Building a community of trust will take time and effort. Building a community free of bias, discrimination and hate speech will take time and effort. Building a community where no one fears retaliation will take time and effort. Nevertheless, Maritime College is steadfastly committed to enacting positive change. The Campus Climate Task Force is charged with making specific recommendations on how Maritime College can implement meaningful institutional change toward a more diverse and inclusive campus climate. One that fosters greater respect and understanding. The Task Force is also charged with recommending approaches that enable us to respond effectively to incidents of bigotry and intolerance.

Campus Climate Task Force Recommendations and College Response

Dear Maritime College Community,

In December 2020, I announced the formation of a Campus Climate Task Force charged with making specific recommendations on how Maritime College can implement meaningful institutional change toward a more diverse and inclusive campus climate.  One that fosters greater respect and understanding.  The Task Force was also charged with recommending approaches that enable us to respond effectively to incidents of bigotry and intolerance.  Finally, the Task Force was asked to make recommendations along three timelines:

  1. Recommendations that can be accomplished immediately;

  2. Recommendations that could be accomplished within 6-12 months; and

  3. Aspirational recommendations.

In response to their charge, the Task Force recommended the following sixteen recommendations that should be implemented during the 2021-2022 academic year.  These recommendations are listed in order of priority, as determined by the Task Force.  I am pleased to report progress has been made in addressing ten of these sixteen short-term recommendations, including six of the top eight Task Force recommendations.  Please see below for details.  The President’s Cabinet will continue to monitor the progress in implementing these recommendations, and will provide updates to the campus community through Town Halls, email, and the College’s web site.

I am grateful to the Task Force for their time, effort and commitment to establishing an inclusive and respectful campus climate at Maritime College that is free from bias, harassment, and discrimination.  Changing climate and culture requires much more than a year’s effort by a few individuals.  It requires a sustained effort by all of us as a campus community.  I call on everyone to rededicate themselves to this important work.

I look forward to engaging the campus community and sharing more on these important issues through Town Halls, faculty meetings and student government.

RADM Michael Alfultis, USMS, Ph.D.
February 15, 2022

Establishment of the President's Council on Campus Climate and Culture

I am pleased to announce the establishment of the President’s Council on Campus Climate and CultureThis Council, which is based upon the recommendations of the Campus Climate Task Force and follows best practices used by other SUNY campuses, will focus on campus-wide justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

The purpose of the President’s Council on Campus Climate and Culture is to cultivate a veritable and visible culture of respect, civility and inclusion among students, faculty and staff, so that together we can experience the intellectual growth that is the core of the educational experience.  We will build an even more inclusive and respectful campus community, one that comprises diverse faculty, students and staff in order to create a richer educational environment and ensure that our graduates possess the understanding, empathy and cultural fluency to thrive in an increasingly diverse society and workplace.

In alignment with these values, the President’s Council on Campus Climate and Culture will leverage the LEADing Change framework to realize the following vision as it pertains to campus climate: “Maritime College is a healthy, safe, and inclusive environment, on campus and at sea, where everyone is respected and valued.” 

Based on the LEADing Change framework, the President’s Council on Campus Climate and Culture will fulfill this vision through the following responsibilities and activities:

  1. Directly advise the President on issues regarding campus diversity and campus climate;

  2. Develop a LEADing Change Action Plan that will create a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful campus culture and climate for all members of our campus community, as well as a healthy, safe, and respectful learning and living environment for our students.  Identify best practices that would assist in effective implementation;

  3. Collaborate with administrative units in collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative institutional diversity data, including periodic campus climate surveys;

  4. Contribute to the development of LEADing Change initiatives in key campus-wide planning documents;

  5. Serve as a resource for faculty, staff, departments, and senior administrators in their efforts to incorporate principles of diversity and inclusion in hiring, retention, curriculum, teaching, and campus life; and

  6. Produce an annual report of the Council’s work, including a reflection on the status of diversity at SUNY Maritime College.

In order to carry out these responsibilities and activities, the President’s Council will meet three times each semester.

The President’s Council is responsible for the planning and execution of Maritime College’s annual LEADing Change Summit, a full day of sessions focused on addressing campus climate and culture through Listening, Educating, and Discussing.  The annual LEADing Change Summit will contribute to the LEADing Change Action Plan that will guide Maritime College’s continuous efforts of creating a healthy, safe, inclusive, and respectful environment.

The President’s Council on Climate and Culture will be comprised of:

  • Chief Diversity Officer (Chair)

  • One faculty representative from each School

  • One representative from Student Affairs

  • One representative from Regimental Staff

  • Cadet Diversity and Inclusion Officer

  • One Intern Student representative

  • One “at-large” faculty member

  • One “at large” staff member

  • One “at-large” student representative

I look forward to working with the members of the President’s Council on Campus Climate and Culture as we continue to propel towards positive and long-lasting change at Maritime College.

RADM Michael Alfultis, USMS, Ph.D.
March 28, 2022

Announcing the Members of the President's Council on Campus Climate and Culture

I am pleased to announce the following faculty, staff, and students have been selected to serve on the Council:

  • Raina Barnes, School of Marine Education & Training Faculty representative

  • Thomas G. Callahan, School of Engineering Faculty representative

  • Anthony M. DiPiazza, School of Business Science & Humanities Faculty representative

  • Adam M. Grohman, Regimental Staff

  • Shahrear Hossain, At-Large Student

  • Logan Metzler, Intern Student

  • Patricia A. Norman, Student Affairs

  • James Onorato, Intern Student

  • Lu-Ann Plaisance, Council Chair

  • Brooke R. Ravenel, At-Large Staff Member

  • David Wang, At-Large Faculty

The newly appointed Council is charged with leveraging the LEADing Change framework to realize the campus climate vision: “Maritime College is a healthy, safe, and inclusive environment, on campus and at sea, where everyone is respected and valued.” Over twenty faculty, students and staff submitted statements of interest to take part in the ten-member Council.  I would like to extend my deepest thanks to each of the individuals who applied and sought after this important endeavor, and I very much appreciate their commitment to enacting change at Maritime College.

As a next step in the process of propelling towards positive change, members of the President’s Council will meet with the Campus Climate Task Force toward an actionable plan that continues the work of the task force.  The President's Council will begin discussing plans and initiatives for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Congratulations to the newly appointed members of the President’s Council on Campus Climate and Culture!  I look forward to working with each member as we progress toward effecting transformative change at Maritime College.  Together, we must recommit ourselves to institutional changes that advance the College forward, and I look to each community member’s full engagement and support in this important work. 

RADM Michael Alfultis, USMS, Ph.D.
May 23, 2022