Coast Guard Academy Scandal Claims College President's Post

Sulmasy, center left, with members of Nichols College's football team (file image courtesy Nichols College)

Published Oct 4, 2023 8:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

The president of Nichols College, a small business-focused school in Dudley, Massachusetts, has resigned following revelations of misconduct during his time as a professor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The ouster is the latest fallout from a long-running CNN investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment at the premier public service academy.  

On September 21, CNN reported on the service's internal investigation into the conduct of Capt. Glenn Sulmasy (USCG, ret'd.), who served as a professor and department chair at USCGA in the 2010s. In 2016, Coast Guard investigators pulled records of his phone messages and emails, and they found that he had sent over 1,600 texts to a female student in which he allegedly "offered to give high grades and show favoritism in class in exchange for sexual banter." 

The exchange with the student was consensual, the investigators determined, but alleged texts like "no final for the goddess" and "I will give u a 100" still drew attention. The evidence prompted Coast Guard attorneys to recommend that Capt. Sulmasy be court-martialed for conduct unbecoming an officer and dereliction of duty. The service's leadership under then-Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft did not follow prosecutors' recommendations, and Capt. Sulmasy - by that point retired and working at another university - was never court-martialed. 

Sulmasy went on to become the president of Nichols College in 2021. After CNN's report was published on September 21, the college retained a law firm to conduct an internal investigation; the report should be finished soon and will not be shared with the public. Sulmasy's tenure came to an end Tuesday when the college's board announced that it had accepted his resignation effective immediately. 

"In light of [CNN's] reports and facts uncovered to date during the College’s ongoing investigation, and their impact on President Sulmasy’s ability to lead Nichols College, the board strongly believes the institution’s best interest is to pursue new leadership," Nichols' trustees wrote. 

It is the second personnel change announced since CNN's reporting series on USCGA began. In August, former vice commandant Adm. Charles Ray resigned from a leadership institute at USCGA after reports on his involvement in Operation Fouled Anchor, a sweeping Coast Guard investigation into sexual misconduct at the academy. Ray was not accused of wrongdoing, but he was second-in-command of the service at the time that Coast Guard leadership decided not to release Operation Fouled Anchor's findings to Congress or to the public.