Growing Complexity of Maritime-Related Responsibilities Prompts New Key Executive Leadership Master's Program

Growing Complexity of Maritime-Related Responsibilities Prompts New Key Executive Leadership Master's Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 4, 2010)—The tragic Gulf of Mexico oil spill unfolded on a national stage, emphasizing the need for competent and effective managers and leaders in the maritime community—in both the public and private sectors. It is critical that these leaders have a working understanding of the interrelationship and responsibilities of the players in both sectors.

To meet this need, American University (AU) and Northeast Maritime Institute (NMI) of Fairhaven, MA, are partnering to offer a Key Executive Leadership Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA) with a focus in maritime affairs. NMI offers a wide range of courses and maritime training opportunities—used for both professional development and licensing upgrades—for the professional and entry-level mariner.

Robert Tobias, director of AU’s Key Executive Leadership programs, says the new program is targeted to mid-level public and private sector managers who are interested and involved in the many aspects of maritime affairs.

Successful students will obtain a Key Executive Leadership MPA from American University’s public management program, ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” AU’s Key Executive Leadership MPA offers the only National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) fully-accredited executive MPA degree in the country.

The first session will begin in February 2011. Initially the MPA program will be a 2-year program, meeting 3 days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) once a month.
“This new program is in recognition of the fact that marine safety, security and environmental protection programs and the associated responsibilities for government administrators and their staff are becoming more complex,” Tobias said. “We need public sector managers, at all levels of government, with knowledge of maritime affairs coupled with contemporary public management substance, skills, and values and the leadership competencies needed to implement what they learn in the program.”

Eric Dawicki, president of NMI and a graduate of the American University Key Executive Leadership MPA program, stated, “It is imperative that we develop the next generation of maritime leaders who can work together locally and globally. This program will help develop the skills and confidence which will enable maritime leaders to become better managers and leaders in the maritime industry of today and senior executive leaders of tomorrow.”

Dawicki emphasized that with increasing state control of ports, maritime security, air emission and other environmental controls initiatives, and instant global communication creating an ever more complex environment, a knowledgeable staff is even more essential than ever. He stated, “A greater number of public sector managers as well as private sector managers need to have the specialized knowledge of maritime affairs and the leadership skills necessary to achieve more efficient and effective maritime administration.”

Admiral James Loy, U.S. Coast Guard (retired), stated, “We are in a post 9-11, Katrina, and 2010 Gulf oil spill environment. Each challenge brings a new dimension to vessel operations, marine safety, and marine pollution prevention requiring skills and competencies that now are even more important skills sets of leaders and managers in the maritime community. Nowhere is a need for agility, adaptability, and speed of service more apparent. If the maritime community, government and the private sector is going to gain capacity to do what is needed to be done, we must have these capabilities.”

Admiral Loy USCG RET, former USCG Commandant, is a member of the program’s academic advisory board. Other distinguished members of the academic advisory board include Dr. John Farrington, scientist emeritus of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Admiral “Ace” Lyons, USN RET, former Pacific area commander; Gerhard Kurz, former president of Mobil Shipping and Transportation Co. and CEO of Seabulk International, two major tanker companies; and the Honorable John Gaughan, former administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration, an agency of the U. S. Department of Transportation.

For further information including how to become a sponsor for students in the program, please see or email

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.