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President Emeritus Paul Gaffney Inducted into Naval Oceanography Hall of Fame

President Graffney Naval Hall of FameFormer University President Paul Gaffney, II, was inducted into the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, MS, on Jan. 25. 

The ceremony was attended by current and former staff members, some of whom served with the inductees.

The program also included the unveiling of and ribbon-cutting on the newest Department of Defense Supercomputing Resource Center’s supercomputers that were installed in 2018 and named after Gaffney and other Hall of Fame inductees. 

A member of the first class of three honorees, Gaffney served as commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC) from 1994 to 1997. He became the first naval oceanographer to attain the rank of vice admiral. 

Gaffney is credited with accomplishing the visionary goal of making Naval Oceanography a world-class supercomputing facility and delivering three oceanographic survey ships into the operational fleet—USNS Pathfinder, USNS Sumner and USNS Bowditch.

“Our competitors strive to shake our confidence. In order to keep our confidence from being shaken we must know what’s happening in the undersea domain. We have that here at Naval Oceanography and no other nation does,” Gaffney said in a press release.

According to the NMOC, these latest installations will now provide users with nearly seven petaflops (a unit of computing speed) of computing capability and are among the fastest supercomputers in the world. 

Michael Palladino, Ph.D., a professor of biology and Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, who has served under Gaffney’s administration, said that the former president was instrumental in implementing a vision to apply supercomputing power to oceanographic research.

“This has not only benefited naval efforts in support of national defense but enriched and advanced ocean research for scientific communities at large, worldwide,” said Palladino. 

“As President, his efforts to bring Monmouth University into national conversations on ocean research and policy issues has had lasting impacts on academic programming in our marine science and policy programs and was instrumental in positional Monmouth as a leader and partner locally,” added Palladino.

He continued, “As a national leader working to identify gaps and challenges in our understanding of oceanographic systems and in supporting research efforts to address those gaps, President Emeritus Gaffney continues to bring recognition and honor to the University through his work with the Urban Coast Institute.”  

Gaffney graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 and earned a Master’s degree in ocean engineering from Catholic University of America and a Master’s in Business Administration from Jacksonville University.

He is currently an Ocean Policy Fellow with the University’s Urban Coast Institute (UCI).

“It is a well-deserved recognition for Admiral’s Gaffney’s distinguished career, which bridges ocean science, policy and management,” said Tony MacDonald, Director of the UCI. “At the same time, it is raising the recognition of Monmouth University and UCI’s work to a national audience.”

As its Ocean Policy Fellow, Gaffney provides on-going advice and guidance to MacDonald and the UCI staff.

He also leads the collaborative efforts with the Rockefeller University Program for the Human Environment, including coordination of the National Ocean Exploration Forum in 2016 and the first National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA in 2018. 

“Thanks to Admiral Gaffney’s support and affiliation with the Urban Coast Institute, we have been able to substantially expand our partnerships and attract funding to expand our work supporting expanded faculty and student research,” said MacDonald.

He added, “His work had also helped to increase the visibility of Monmouth University and our Institute as a state, regional, and national leader in coastal and ocean policy.”

Naval Oceanography has approximately 2,500 globally distributed military and civilian personnel, who collect, process, and exploit environmental information to assist Fleet and Joint Commanders in all warfare areas to guarantee the U.S. Navy’s freedom of action in the physical battlespace from the depths to the stars.

“The contributions Gaffney has achieved at Monmouth University are unparalleled,” said Kaitlyn Smith, a senior marine and environmental biology student and research assistant at the UCI. “He is more than deserving of this honor.”  

Smith said that Gaffney has advocated for many of the Institute’s programs such as the ocean exploration policy, which is partnered with Rockefeller University.

“After being President of Monmouth University, he has shown continuous dedication to Monmouth students by advocating and directing ocean research projects,” she said. 

Smith concluded, “As a MEBP (marine and environmental biology and policy) student, I understand the value that extended research and opportunities bring to our program.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University

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