Head of Kings Point to step down after less than a year in office

The superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) announced Nov. 10, 2009, that he would be stepping down after only a year at the helm because his father-in-law has pancreatic cancer.

Rear Adm. Allen Worley said he would leave USMMA Kings Point Jan. 4. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that a national search for a successor would be conducted and that Shashi Kumar, the academy’s academic dean and assistant superintendent for academic affairs, will serve as interim superintendent.

Explaining his decision in an interview with Professional Mariner, Worley said, “The real reason was purely a family issue. Otherwise it wouldn’t have been our choice to leave because we love these midshipmen and the job that we are doing. My wife needs to spend the last few months with her dad.â€

Worley, 57, retired from the Navy in 2003 after serving as aviation department head on the amphibious assault ship USS WASP during the first Persian Gulf War and head of the Department of Naval Science at the University of Illinois from 2000 to 2003. He was superintendent of the Texas Maritime Academy for two years before coming to Kings Point.

The 1,000-student USMMA was criticized in an August U.S. Government Accountability Office analysis of its finances from 2006 to 2008, which was before Worley arrived. The report found “numerous instances of improper and questionable sources and use of funds†in relation to student fees and weak oversight by the academy and the federal Maritime Administration, under which it operates.

LaHood said, “The Merchant Marine Academy has gone through an important rebuilding year and is positioned for reaching the next level.â€

Worley said, “I was brought in here primarily to help stabilize the situation with the academy’s finances and budget. We’ve gotten that under control. We’ve re-established a solid financial officer position here. We’ve got good oversight on the academy’s finances. We’ve reorganized the academy’s alumni foundation and their gifting programs to support the academy.â€

He said increased federal funding has allowed the budget to increase from more than $61 million in 2009 to more than $74 million in 2010. PricewaterhouseCoopers was hired to review the finances.

In addition, Worley said he began an overhaul of the curriculum and “I’ve changed the focus of the academy’s mission back to what I thought was the right focus, which was training merchant mariners†rather than concentrating on training active duty military officers.

Alumni and other groups have been supportive of Worley’s efforts.

Bill Bleyer

By Professional Mariner Staff