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New London— Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz became the first woman ever to lead one of the nation's military academies today as she took command of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
She is the school's 40th superintendent, taking over from Rear Adm. J. Scott Burhoe who has led the school since January 2007.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. said at the ceremony that Stosz was opening "hopefully one of the few remaining doors" as the first female superintendent of a service academy.
"Congratulations on this historic and well-earned accomplishment," he said.
Stosz, who previously developed policies to recruit, train and support about 8,000 Coast Guard reservists as the director of Reserve and Leadership, said she was honored to serve as a role model, but feels that becoming the first female superintendent is not a milestone, but rather a "natural progression in the Coast Guard's efforts to create a climate of equity."
She said she was looking forward to meeting everyone at the academy and the community to "take a fix" and see where there may be new opportunities or challenges. She said she planned to build on Burhoe's "phenomenal record of success."
As superintendent, Burhoe recruited, trained and graduated more than 2,200 people into the officer corps, or more than 30 percent of the Coast Guard's commissioned officers. That number includes academy cadets, officer candidates, direct commission officers and reserve officer candidates
Papp said Burhoe's legacy is these men and women, ready to step forward and apply their knowledge, leadership and might— attributes they honed at the academy under Burhoe's leadership.
"I can't think of any finer legacy for an officer," Papp said.
Burhoe was emotional as he read his orders from the personnel command to leave the academy and retire. He will continue in the educational field by becoming the next president of Fork Union Military Academy.
"What a blessing it has been," he said, "to educate and inspire the next generation of Coast Guard leadership."