Rear Admiral Sandra L. Stosz assumed command of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London today to become the school’s 40th superintendent and the first woman to head an American military academy. U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Rear Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr. presided over the ceremony on the academy grounds Friday.
Stosz graduated from the academy in 1982 and most recently served as Director of Coast Guard Enterprise Strategic Management and Doctrine writing policy and reporting to directly to the commandant of the Coast Guard. Stosz also served as commanding officer of USCG Recruit Training Center at Cape May, New Jersey.
She assumed command of the academy from Rear Admiral J. Scott Burhoe who retired after finishing his tenure at the academy.
Below is the text of Rear Admiral Stosz remarks provided by the United States Coast Guard Academy:
"Good morning ADM Papp, Vice Admiral Brice-O’Hara, distinguished guests, family and friends.
I am honored and humbled with the opportunity to come back to the Academy, where my career began 33 years ago when I came through the same gates you entered today – as an 18-year-old looking for adventure, challenge and to be part of something bigger than myself in service to our country.
I am standing before you today thanks to those who believed in me before I developed the confidence to believe in myself; the coaches, faculty, staff, classmates, friends and family who helped me discover and apply my inner passion to achieve excellence and graduate as a leader of character from this remarkable institution.
And I am here because of the enlisted crewmembers, chief petty officers and officers who have supported me from below and guided me from above to help me succeed throughout my 29 years of commissioned service, including twelve years of sea duty.
Admiral Papp, thank you for your confidence in selecting me for this important position…I will do my very best to build upon RADM Scott Burhoe’s phenomenal record of success in leading this tremendous institution as it produces the next generation of leaders, those who will replace us some day. Leaders with the character and qualities needed to capably serve our Coast Guard and Nation in an uncertain future.
And I want to thank Scott and Betsy Burhoe for their generous assistance during the transition…Scott has been a mentor since we served together 10 years ago in Washington DC in the Coast Guard’s Personnel Command.
In fact, he encouraged me to come back to serve here at the Academy – he was thinking one of the more junior positions – but I am very honored to be coming back to relieve him and carry on his work. So thanks, Scott, for your help preparing me for this job.
I think Betsy may have had the tougher job these past few weeks orienting my husband, Bob, to his new duties as the Academy’s “First Gentleman.” That’s really paving the way and I’m not sure there’s a guide book for that! Thank you, Betsy.
Finally, thanks to my family and friends who traveled here to be with me today…
- My husband, Bob, who, as an engineer, faithfully provides my “mission support” (and we all know that behind every successful operator there is an excellent engineer!)
- Bob’s mom, Gloria, his sister Donna and our nephews Nick and Lewis.
- My friends from the venerable Skinner Team, who have energetically supported me for the past 20 years! Our paths first crossed when we all had the distinct pleasure of serving on the personal staff of then Secretary of Transportation Sam Skinner.
- My Classmates from the great class of 1982!
- My high school track coach, Coach Holshue – who saw promise in me in those early years.
- And all my friends and colleagues who chose to be with me here today – THANK YOU.
The Academy is richly steeped in a history of fine leaders such as Rear Admiral Burhoe, and I am fortunate to be able to build on the firm foundation laid by 39 past superintendents – each one having contributed in his own way, to building the Academy’s long, stable and proud institutional history.
And I am especially grateful to the 29th and 30th superintendents, Rear Admirals Bill Jenkins and Owen Siler, who were instrumental in preparing the Academy to admit women in 1976.
These leaders of character and courage opened the doors of opportunity for young women like me to be able to attend the Academy and serve their country as commissioned officers.
People ask me, “what does it mean to you to be the first female Superintendent?” First of all, I am honored to serve as a role model; but I don’t see this as a milestone, so much as it is a natural progression in the Coast Guard’s efforts to create a climate of equity, an environment in which our entire workforce feels valued because they are afforded equal opportunity to advance their careers and contribute their utmost to important Coast Guard missions that safeguard and secure our nation and its citizens.
I am excited to be joining the Academy team at a time when our diverse cadet corps will graduate with access to the capital assets needed to perform the Coast Guard’s many missions.
President Obama was just here to give the commencement address, and in his remarks recognized the value of the Coast Guard pledging, and I quote “that the Nation will do everything in our power to help you succeed. That’s why we’re investing in the new ships and national security cutters and aircraft that you need to get the job done.” (unquote)
And speaking of those new capital assets that the President supports, last summer Mrs. Obama christened the CGC STRATTON, our third National Security Cutter, which is nearly 90% complete.
Unlike many of our older cutters which have limitations on their ability to accommodate women based on the configuration of their berthing areas, these new cutters are fully able to accommodate female sailors and maximize their seagoing opportunities and professional career growth.
As I traveled around recently to visit with the Superintendents of the other service academies, members of Congress and other stakeholders, I was truly energized about reporting aboard and working to build on the many successes of the Academy team under the steady and forward leaning leadership of RADM Scott Burhoe.
- One of my first efforts will be to meet with members of the Academy community, and I started that outreach this week. My first impression is…what a team! The Pride, Professionalism and Positive energy is amazing and makes me proud as I stand here today.
- I am equally excited to reach out to the Academy’s many external partners and stakeholders – those of you here locally in New London and the surrounding communities, statewide and national - including the maritime industry.
- We will focus on telling the story of all the Academy does to support the Coast Guard and the Nation.
- We will continue to explore opportunities to further strengthen the Academy’s value by leveraging our unique capabilities and capacity to address the constantly changing needs of our service and beyond.
- In the true spirit of assessment, accountability and continuous improvement, we have a timely opportunity to evaluate, shape and balance the cadet learning experience with our upcoming core curriculum review.
- We will examine staffing and organizational alignment in a modernized Coast Guard.
- And, building upon our recent success, we will continue to move forward to build an officer corps that draws the talents, abilities and viewpoints from the richness of our diverse American society.
My initial plans are to get to better know and understand the full workings of this historic institution… to take a fix and lay down a trackline to the destination set forth in the Academy’s strategic plan. Working with the Academy community, we will adjust that trackline to account for set and drift, or in civilian terms, those new opportunities and/or challenges that warrant adjustment.
Today as we look ahead to the future, let us remember that the fundamentals of the Coast Guard Academy and our mission remain the same – we need to graduate cadets that are morally, ethically, mentally, and physically prepared to meet the challenges and threats ahead, while they seize the many rich opportunities they will surely encounter as newly commissioned officers.
The Coast Guard Academy is a unique national asset, positioned on the leading edge of intellectual advancements of our Nation’s understanding of homeland security, government leadership and management, maritime safety and security and environmental sustainability.
I am incredibly proud to be a product of this great institution and to be afforded the unique opportunity to return to lead the Academy team of topflight professionals developing tomorrow’s future Service leaders.
Our purpose is noble –to graduate leaders of character who aspire to selflessly serve our great maritime nation and ensure it is positioned to best meet the critical safety and security challenges that lie ahead.
Thank you, Semper Paratus, and fair winds to the Burhoes."