SUNY Maritime College picks Navy admiral, pioneer aviator, as its first female president

Wendi Carpenter, a U.S. Navy rear admiral, has been named the first female president of SUNY Maritime College.

Rear Adm. Wendi Carpenter on Aug. 8 toured the Military Sealift Command's USNS Kanawa in Norfolk, where she met its captain, Jim Dolan, a 1981 SUNY Maritime graduate, and George McCarthy, the MSC's East Coast port captain and a 1980 graduate. (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy)

Carpenter, 55, commander of the Navy Warfare Development Command and the Navy's first woman aviator promoted to the rank of admiral, was appointed in July by the State University of New York Board of Trustees to run the Bronx campus nestled under the Throgs Neck Bridge. She was scheduled to start in the post in late August.

"Admiral Carpenter is among the Navy's elite, and she will be an outstanding addition to the SUNY leadership team," SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said.

Carpenter said she was attracted to the position because "I have a lot of background and training in education. I've always had the desire to go into higher education when I retired from the military."

"The college has a phenomenal, longtime reputation as a really fine institution," she added. "But I think it's safe to say that there's opportunities for us to go to the next level. I think there's probably some opportunities to increase the types of outreach in business learning. There's probably some opportunities to add some master's programs."

Carpenter said there is a desire by the college community to obtain a new training ship that reflects current technology in the industry. And she said she would look to partner with other institutions to create new opportunities for students and expand research and development work.

Among the first women selected to become a naval aviator, Carpenter graduated from flight school at the top of her class. She was assigned as the first graduate instructor pilot in the T-44 advanced multi-engine aircraft program at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, and in 2005 was promoted to admiral.

Carpenter is the daughter of a career Air Force enlisted man, Marlin Bryan, who served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam and went from a bottom turret gunner on a B-17 to became a nuclear warhead specialist.

She graduated from the University of Georgia in 1976 and was commissioned in 1978 through Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla.

After serving as an instructor, in 1981 she was ordered to sea duty at Naval Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii, where she served as a mission commander, aircraft commander and instructor pilot in EC-130 aircraft. She completed a shore tour as an aviation assignments officer in Washington, D.C.

Carpenter has held five commands at the commander, captain and flag levels in the areas of logistics, training and aviation. In June 2008, she assumed command of the Navy Warfare Development Command, which works on new weaponry. She earned a master's degree in international relations from Salve Regina University.

She succeeds John Craine Jr., a retired Navy vice admiral, in heading SUNY Maritime. Established in 1874, SUNY Maritime is the country's oldest maritime academy. Craine, who is retiring, has led the school since 2005.

By Professional Mariner Staff