NEW LONDON — Despite its somewhat cloistered reputation, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, with its military monuments, guarded gates and platoons of cadets marching on precision-trimmed lawns, isn't immune from wider cultural shifts.
Like its civilian college counterparts, the New London-based service academy is facing a drop in applicants, competition from private sector head-hunters and the rapid advancement in technology.
Despite those challenges, the academy's superintendent, Rear Adm. Mike Johnston, said his cadets and staff are working to ensure the academy will continue to produce officers prepared to carry out the service's mission of “Semper Paratus,” or Always Ready.
During a wide-ranging Day editorial board interview that included his senior staff on Monday, Johnston, a 1990 academy graduate who carries a copy of the branch's oath of office with him, said it's disheartening that the “propensity of those willing to serve has declined.”
“But the cadets fill me with so much hope,” said Johnston, who took command of the academy in May. “When I first got here, I took stock and asked how we could be better.”
Keeping what works, scrapping the rest
He said while cadet programming lays out goals, many weren't clearly articulated. To address this, he introduced the “L.I.F.T,” concept that stresses leadership, improvement, future and teamwork.
He said the four pillars are designed to teach future officers to lead by…