News From Fort Schuyler

June 21, 2002 - Volume 6, No. 22

ENGINE HEAD - The Maritime College has a new chairperson for its Engineering Department, DR. RICHARD J. BURKE, Class of 1972. In the words of a college press release: " ...Burke returns to the school after a successful career in and out of the industry, in which he has proven himself as an innovative and accomplished scholar, teacher, consultant and administrator. 'I have an enduring commitment to the mission of Maritime College and the professions it serves. I feel much as Samuel Clemens did when he wrote about his time as a riverboat pilot, in [that I love] the profession of naval architecture better than any other and do take immeasurable pride in it,' Burke explained." Richard, with a master's in Naval Architecture from MIT and a PhD from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, comes to Fort Schuyler from RPI, where he taught in the School of Engineering. According to the press release, while at RPI, "He was also invited to teach in the Lally MBA program for five years. He has pioneered distance-learning courses for the past decade and developed new and topical course offerings throughout his teaching career." Before becoming an academic, Richard spent 15 years in the shipbuilding industry and worked as a statistician at a U.S. Department of Energy R&DS laboratory. He has written numerous articles and is one of the authors of the American Society for Quality publication, 'Statistics and Quality Control for the Workplace' (1993). Impressive. Welcome aboard. Welcome back.

EBB TIDE ADDENDUM - Alumni have already marked the passing of GEORGE YATSKO, Class of 1952, with several eulogies on the Alumni Association website. George died of cancer on June 3 at the age of 74. It was noted by TED MASON, Class of 1957, that George died "...fifty years to the day of his graduation from Maritime and his commissioning in the [Naval Reserve.]" According to a death notice in the June 4 edition of The Bergen Record Online (, besides being a WWII Navy veteran and a merchant marine veteran of the Korean and the Persian Gulf wars, he was also the founder of the Hillside Flyers. It turns out that George was a national leader in the model airplane community - the folks who fly model planes using radio control or control lines in parks and other open spaces dedicated for this sport. The website of the Academy of Model Aeronautics ( and noted that: "George is an incredibly enthusiastic and dedicated modeler who has developed one of the premier youth modeling programs in the District if not the entire country."

SIGNED - According to June 7th issue of the online edition of 'The BRINE Log' (Volume 1, issue no. 2) published by JIM MALONEY, Class of 1980, "The Education Law of New York was recently amended by adding a new Section 352-A"...which codifies the legislative appointment of cadets to the Maritime College. There is no indication in BRINE when Governor Pataki signed this important legislation, but apparently it is a done deal. Good news, major news, indeed. (For details of the program see the May 28 NFFS.)

THE COMPETITION ? "The Bowditch Remembrance Institute for Nautical Education, Inc. (BRINE for short) was born on May 14, 2002... and is devoted to the cause of preserving and improving nautical education at SUNY Maritime College and elsewhere," this according to an item headed, 'BRINE News.' "Anyone wishing to be added to The BRINE Log e-mail list should send a blank message with the word 'subscribe' in the subject line to BRINELOG@HOTMAIL.COM "

PROFESSOR SENNISH REMEMBERED - A number of Professor's Sennish's former students have sent notes to NFFS about their late teacher.

BOB SCHWIEGER, Class of 1964, writes: "He really was a breath of fresh air in a very rigorous and regimented academic program. Had him for one semester and learned a great deal about myself and life in general. His perspective and relentless challenge of the status quo helped to shape some of my attitudes. I say 'helped,' but that might not be the proper word because those attitudes, on occasion, have caused me a great deal of pain. But what the hell, I wouldn't have learned much from the man unless I was willing to tweak the nose of the beast when it was 'necessary.'"

"I signed up for Professor Sennish's 'Political Literature' course," recalls MICHAEL C. MORRIS, Class of 1981. "I remember that with so many required courses in each major, it seemed like our opportunities to take electives were limited. So I really savored the chance to take Professor Sennish's 'Political Literature.' Several times at SUNYMC I sensed that I was being mentored by a member of the faculty, and while I was taking Professor Sennish's course was one of those times."

"He led us through Marx's "The Communist Manifesto" - not much more than a political pamphlet with a cynical view of humankind, but one that influenced the lives of hundreds of millions of people. He also had each of us write a term paper on one of the 1980 Presidential candidates. I chose the man who ran as an Independent, John Anderson. It was not until after I had written the paper that Professor Sennish told me he was Chairman of the Rockland County Anderson-for-President campaign! My roommate, who was taking Professor Sennish's 'Quality and Kitsch' course, couldn't believe the coincidence! How fortuitous!"

"I also recall Professor Sennish holding the Political Literature class in the Humanities Department conference room over lunch hour, where we discussed the reading assignment over baguettes, bottles of wine, and (I think) cheese. There was also the time when Professor Sennish gave us his assessment of the big, powerful American cars, such as Pontiac Trans Ams and Camaro Z-28s, that some students drove on campus and over which many others probably lusted. He stated that the size of one's car was inversely proportional to the size of one's manhood. Of course, Professor Sennish drove a Fiat at the time."

"Finally, I recall showing Professor Sennish a couple of essays authored by retired Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale in the US Naval Institute's 'Proceedings' magazine. In them, Vice Admiral Stockdale wrote of the value of studying the classics in the humanities - the Greek classics, if I recall - and attributed his ability to withstand deprivation and torture as a prisoner of war to his reading of such works."

"Later, Professor Sennish told me that he had called the Pentagon and tracked down Vice Admiral Stockdale in California, where he was (I think) a philosopher-in-residence at Stanford. SUNYMC's President at that time, Admiral Kinney, had announced his intention to step down and Professor Sennish, serving on the presidential search committee, said that he attempted to persuade Admiral Stockdale to apply for the position, describing SUNYMC's strengths and weaknesses as he saw them. Professor Sennish related that Admiral Stockdale said he was not interested in becoming President of another miltary-type college, inasmuch as he had just finished a tour as President of the Citadel. Press reports at the time indicated that he had several run-ins with Citadel alumni in attempting to revise the curriculum there.

"Since reading your bulletin about Professor Sennish's passing, I now know more about the man. Reading both the lines and between the lines, I have no doubt that he was a man who enjoyed life. He also opened eyes."

LATE NEWS: The memorial for Prof Sennish has been scheduled for 4 PM, Saturday, July 20 at the Reformed Church of Piermont, 361 Ferdon Avenue, followed by a reception at the Village Hall at 478 Piermont Avenue.

CORRECTIVE ACTION - An error in last week's PERSISTENT UPDATE is corrected by CAPT ERIC JOHANSSON: "JOHN RYAN was sailing in the capacity of Chief Mate. I was sailing in the capacity of Captain."

SHAMELESS PROMOTION - One of Fort Schuyler's ancient mariners, ALVIN GOLDEN, Class of October 1946, writes: "After reading your current issue of News from Fort Schuyler, I felt that I, again, wanted to say 'Thank you' for continuing to publish [NFFS]. I not only find it interesting and enjoyable, but it gives this 'old time' alumnus pleasurable memories of his days at the school and news of the maritime world, which he loves." [Notes like yours are always appreciated, even when not publicly acknowledged.]