U.S. Representative Tim Bishop has been appointed to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s Congressional Board of Visitors, an advisory board that serves as a liaison between the academy and Congress.
He will be expected to help make recommendations about the academy’s operations to its administration and to officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation, which oversees the school, through the end of 2014.
As a former provost at Southampton College, Mr. Bishop said on Friday, his experience has suited him well for the position, which is unpaid.
“I spent 29 years on a college campus, so I believe I can bring to the Board of Visitors a perspective not as just a member of Congress but as someone who understands the dynamics of a campus,” he said this week. “I have run a college and I know the demands placed on senior administration and faculty, and I understand issues like student life co-curricular activities.”
The USMMA, located in Kings Point, began as a World War II cadet corps training facility for merchant mariners, and is one of five service academies.
According to a press release sent out last week by Mr. Bishop, he was the only House Democrat named to the board by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon.
In a letter to the Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, Mr. McKeon said that Mr. Bishop and the other appointees— U.S. Representative Alan Nunelee, a Republican from Mississippi, and U.S. Representative Michael Grimm,a Republican of New York City—have the traits needed for the job. “I have found in them a thoughtful and innovated approach to their duties that I’m sure will serve the Board of Visitors and the academy well,” Mr. McKeon said.
The Board of Visitors is made up of eight members appointed by the chairmen of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives, the vice president, and the speaker of the House of Representatives.
Mr. Bishop said that he wants to help continue the academy’s success.
“It’s a first-rate institution,” he said. “I think there needs to be some investment in developing and rehabbing the physical plant, but my primary goal is to see that the academy continues to offer academic program quality at a high level.”
The USMMA was closed during the government shutdown in October—Mr. Bishop said that cannot happen again. “In the event it does occur again we have to be certain that the academy is treated in same way as the four other service academies and the Department of Defense,” he said.
On October 4, Mr. Bishop cited the temporary closure of the academy as part of a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives decrying the shutdown.