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Candidates for Texas A&M Maritime Academy Superintendent position hold public forums on campus

Rear Admiral Gary Hall

By Amanda Barbato, '19


|Photo courtesy:   Texas A&M University at Galveston 

Rear Admiral Gary Hall was the third of three candidates for the Texas A&M Maritime Academy Superintendent position. Hall graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a BS in Marine Engineering. 

Rear Admiral Gary Hall was the third candidate for the Texas A&M Maritime Academy Superintendent position to visit campus. Similarly to the other two candidates, a public forum was held in which Hall discussed what he would focus on as Superintendent of the Academy. Following his speech, students, faculty, and administrators in attendance were able to directly ask Hall questions.

The first issue Hall addressed in his speech was the strategic plan for the Texas A&M Maritime Academy. He commended the overall focus of the strategic plan and expressed the need for it to become a “living, breathing document.” His thought was to not only have a well thought out strategic plan, but to have a functioning, operational, and inspiring goal that could be carried out with the plan in mind.

Hall emphasized the great work Rear Admiral Robert Smith, former Superintendent of the Maritime Academy, Chief Operations Officer, and Vice President of Texas A&M University at Galveston achieved. “I think Admiral Smith did a great job and if I were to follow him I would be standing on the shoulders of a very tall man,” Hall said.

Hall finds his place at Texas A&M Maritime Academy to be implementing and overseeing the vision Smith set. “Overall, I don’t look at this opportunity as one that needs fixing or changing, but it’s an inflection point and it’s time to execute Admiral Smith’s vision,” he said.

The Superintendent candidate does however have some areas he would like to see improve. If chosen for the position, Hall wants to increase liberal arts studies so that students can understand their place in the big picture after they graduate. This is something he claims to have struggled with after higher education.

Rear Admiral Hall attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Engineering. He then earned his Masters of Business Administration from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, giving him “a little business savvy.”

In addition to increasing liberal arts studies, Hall believes cyber hygiene and cyber warfare classes should be taught as soon as freshmen year. These classes will demonstrate cyber defense techniques, tactics, and procedures. Hall said in this increasingly technological age cyber hygiene is becoming essential as the Pentagon is attacked daily. As ship systems become more intricate cadets should be learning cyber defense.

Candidate Hall stated that Pelican Island houses more than just a campus; it houses a leadership academy. “The more you empower the students, the Corps of Cadets, the better the organization will be,” Hall said.  If he were given the position of Superintendent he would use his first 100 days to listen and learn from faculty, administrators, and all groups within the Corps of Cadets, he said.

Another issue he addressed was diversity on campus and within the Corps. “I believe diversity is a requirement,” said Hall firmly. His thoughts on seeing diversity increase start not with a strategy but a change of campus culture. “You have to work on the culture of this campus so that people of all backgrounds know it is a safe place,” he said. The culture cannot be counter to the strategy the school creates.

Rear Admiral Hall then took questions from the audience. The topics of these questions involved maintaining connections with companies for alumni, diversity plans and ideas, and his qualifications as a leader. Hall comes from a cadet/midshipmen environment and understands discipline. He has accomplished a lot in his career in the Navy. One accomplishment he mentioned was converting an amphibious group into an expeditionary strike group as a flag officer.

Hall spoke on the importance of creating well-rounded individuals. Going to sea gives you an edge over other students because you develop a fix-it-yourself mentality that increases problem solving skills. Hall plans to capitalize on being “multi-purpose” individuals as a marketing tool for Texas Maritime Academy students. Hall said “Those that go to sea, travel the world and meet people of all nations. When they graduate from here will become ambassadors for Texas, for Texas A&M, for the United States as they go forward with their career.”