The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, or USMMA, installed John R. Ballard, Ph.D., as the new Academic Dean and Provost in a brief ceremony at the Academy earlier this week.
Ballard will serve as the chief academic officer and principal advisor to the Superintendent in all matters relating to the academic program and faculty. He will also co-chair the educational priority working group for the recently released USMMA Strategic Plan.
At a morning ceremony before the staff, faculty and the Regiment of Midshipmen, Rear Adm. James A. Helis, USMMA Superintendent, welcomed Dr. Ballard to the Academy and to the Dean’s office.
“Dr. Ballard brings a wealth of leadership and academic experience to the team and we look forward to a bright future with him leading the faculty and the academic program,” Helis said in a previous release.
He also thanked Interim Academic Dean Capt. Preston De Jean for his service at an important time for the Academy and noted his lasting contributions to the development of the academic program. Helis presented De Jean with the Maritime Service Commendation Medal in recognition of his time as the interim academic dean.
Then, in a ceremony reminiscent of a military change of command, Captain De Jean passed the Academic Mace to Superintendent Helis, who in turn passed it to Dr, Ballard symbolizing the formal transfer of responsibility for the Academy’s academic program was complete.
Ballard served as a Marine Infantry officer immediately following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy. He commanded Marines at the platoon, company, battalion and group levels, in both the active and reserve components, served in peace operations in Haiti, and commanded Marines, Soldiers and Sailors in combat during the Iraq War.
His academic experience includes service at the Joint Forces Staff College, New Zealand’s Massey University, the Naval War College, and as the Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs at the National War College. He was also the founding Dean of the National Defense College in the United Arab Emirates. Most recently, he served as the Vice President for Veteran’s and Military Partnerships and Director of the Service members Opportunity Colleges at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
He is a published author and has lectured and presented seminars around the world on matters of national security, leadership and military history. He has published six books and is awaiting publication of his latest work, the co-authored book, “National Security Education: Developing Strategic Leaders for 21st Century Security Challenges.”
He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (B.S.), California State University, Dominquez Hills (M.A.), and The Catholic University of America (Ph.D.). Ballard has been recognized with a Distinguished Writing Award from the Army Historical Foundation and a Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. His military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star medals for service in combat during the Iraq War.