Monday, July 10, 2017




West Point faces difficulty in attracting candidates, Board of Visitors learned

WEST POINT – West Point’s commitment to strengthening the diversity and character of the student body was demonstrated throughout Monday’s Board of Visitor’s session held at the US Military Academy.

Director of Admissions Col. Deborah McDonald pointed out that the academy’s Class of 2021 had the highest percentage and number of female cadets as well as African American/black cadets in history.

“It has been a phenomenal year,” she said of the surge of diversity in the student body.

Still, problems exist with the recruitment process. With high schools across the U.S. producing 81,000 fewer graduates in 2016 than in the previous year, it has been “a close knife fight” for the USMA when it comes to attracting high school students, according to McDonald.

A map presented to the board indicated that Members of Congress are nominating fewer students as candidates for the academy, and the lowest concentration of nominees lies around districts in major U.S. cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY-18), a member of the Board of Visitors, made note of this, and also pointed out that districts led by Hispanic members have almost no nominees. Womack stated that he intends to speak to Representative Jose Serrano (NY-15) about this issue.

The academy’s growing efforts to raise awareness and prevent sexual assault and harassment on campus were noted. This movement largely emerged in light of a reported incident last year between a cadet and a female classmate that went into trial earlier this year.

The reaction to the alleged incident on social media was highlighted during the meeting, as was the #DenimDay event, which took place in April as a show of protest against victim blaming of sexual assault victims.

It was announced that former President George W. Bush will be recipient of the Sylvanus Thayer Award presented by the Association of Graduates in October.

There was much celebration over the Army football team beating Navy for the first time in 15 years this past year.

Building on the victory over the Navy team, a motion to create a Board of Visitors coin to rival similar coins from the Naval and Air Force Academies was approved.

The Board of Visitors is a special panel of distinguished individuals who serve as advisors for major decisions made by the school’s administration. They meet three times a year, either in Washington, D.C. or in West Point. Members include Rep. Maloney, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Rep. Steve Womack (AK-3), who serves as the board chairman.




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