Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence
Dedication and Ribbon Cutting
United States Naval Academy
21 September 1963
Remarks by W. Spencer Johnson, President, USNA Class of 1963----
Admiral Miller, Dean Phillips, Mr. Marchant, Dr. Bukowski, Distinguished Members of the Class of 1963, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Forty years ago the class of 1963 established a class foundation to honor the memory of our departed classmates, the 13 lost in Vietnam and all others who have died under varying circumstances. The most fitting means of doing so was decided to be providing college scholarship funds for the sons and daughters of our deceased classmates. To date our class foundation has dispensed over $900,000 in assisting over 90 such sons and daughters gain a college education. While their father could not be there to foster their higher education and career aspirations, his classmates were.
Twelve years ago, our class shifted its primary focus to support for the Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence, again to memorialize our departed classmates, now 154 in number, and to serve as our legacy to the Brigade of Midshipmen, the Naval Academy, and the future of our nation.
My Plebe year I was one of three in a room on the third deck of the sixth wing, then the edge of the known world. At the end of the year, with my new youngster shoulder boards pinned on and my sea bag in hand, I found myself the only one left of the three. In a four man room the following year, I lost another roommate to academic deficiency. Mine was not a unique experience. At the end of our four years here, almost a third of our class had been separated, largely due to academic deficiencies. Little help was available in those days to assist those who failed to grasp a concept the first time around or who fell behind in the mandated, fast paced and demanding course of studies. If the Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence had existed in our day, there would have been a lot more of us at graduation, tossing our caps in the air, and going on to serve our nation in the armed services and a thousand other civilian pursuits.
We are determined that our experiences of academic attrition not be shared with the current Brigade of Midshipmen, each member of which is carefully selected, not only for academic and athletic abilities, but also for demonstrated leadership qualities that mark them as potential future leaders of our nation in uniform and in civilian endeavors to numerous to list. If they need timely tutoring in difficult subjects, help in developing time management skills, and in honing effective study habits, we want to help ensure that such assistance is available. The number of midshipmen walking through these doors on a weekly basis this year is now approaching 600, almost 40% more than last year. Already, through the efforts of a world class faculty and this Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence, attrition rates for academic failure have fallen to four percent or less. We could not be more pleased that the Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence has played a significant part in this achievement. We have indeed reaped a tremendous return on investment.
Next year at our 50th reunion, our class hopes to report to Admiral Miller a total gift of 6.3 million dollars to this most worthwhile endeavor. Pulling together, we hope to achieve this goal. We would also like to acknowledge the classes of 1956, 1973 and the class of 1975 for joining us in this effort, and the generous contribution of Mr. Bill Marriott.
With us today is Midn. John-Rex Spivey and the officers of the Class of 2013, our Link in the Chain class. In a few months, they will begin to discuss their first gift to the Naval Academy. We hope that they too will seriously consider lending their support to the Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence in the years ahead, helping to ensure its viability for the next fifty years. The need will always be there.