Mass. Maritime Taps McDonald as New President

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 29, 2015

Francis X. McDonald (source: Massachusetts Maritime Academy)

Francis X. McDonald (source: Massachusetts Maritime Academy)

EVP Fran McDonald tops a field of five; choice still must be approved by Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.


Pending a confirmation vote by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE), Francis X. McDonald has been selected as the 38th president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. McDonald, a 1985 graduate of the school, has worked on campus since 1994. Currently, he serves as Executive Vice President of the nation's oldest continuously operating maritime academy and has earned degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Northeastern University.


McDonald topped an impressive field of five that included Coast Guard Captain Melissa Bert, retired Coast Guard Captain Kurt Colella and retired Navy Admirals Michael Nowakowski and Ann Rondeau.

McDonald will have the unenviable task of filling big shoes left by Admiral Richard Gurnon, who retires this summer after 10 years as president and MMA service that dates all the way back to 1978. Gurnon, not always popular, but widely regarded as the individual who ushered in growth, stability, and helped build what is now (arguably) the most modern maritime campus in the country, leaves McDonald - if confirmed - and the school in very good shape.

This morning, a local source familiar with McDonald and the Academy told MarineNews, "The MMA Board of Trustees voted unanimously on the first ballot. We have had good luck with promoting from within. Fran McDonald is an MMA graduate and a sharp engineer who knows how to work a crowd." Reportedly, the BHE vote is scheduled to occur on 9 June.

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