Vice Admiral Paul G. Gaffney II

For the Degree Doctor of Education, honoris causa



This honoree is a man of many parts: a sailor, an engineer, a commander, an administrator, a policymaker, a university president and an alumnus of The Catholic University of America. He has served his country faithfully in a naval career spanning more than three decades that has included duty at sea, ashore and abroad in executive and command positions.

According to one account, Vice Admiral Paul Gaffney II became interested in the sea as a child when he would ride the ferry to his grandmother’s boarding house on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The ferry would carry him past the well-known Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, foreshadowing the path that he would follow in his professional career.

One of Admiral Gaffney’s first stops along that path was the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1968. Immediately thereafter, he was selected to pursue graduate studies. He enrolled in Catholic University’s School of Engineering, receiving a master’s degree in mechanical engineering (with an ocean engineering emphasis) in 1969. Subsequently, Admiral Gaffney spent a year as a student and advanced research fellow at the Naval War College; he graduated with highest distinction. Later, he received a master’s of business administration degree at Jacksonville University in Florida.

During his illustrious career, Admiral Gaffney has served in key naval science and technology positions. He was Commanding Officer of the Naval Research Laboratory, the premier Navy laboratory for research and development. He was also Commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command and the Chief of Naval Research. In the latter position, he had management responsibility for the Navy contract research program, including research conducted at universities. During the time that he was Chief of Naval Research, he took on additional duties as Deputy Commandant for Science and Technology in the Headquarters of the U.S. Marine Corps. Today, he is the senior uniformed oceanography specialist in the U.S. Navy.

In July 2000 Admiral Gaffney became president of the National Defense University in Washington, the nation’s premier military education institution for civilian and military leaders. The following year, President George W. Bush named him to the National Ocean Policy Commission.

Over the years, Admiral Gaffney has delivered more than 85 significant addresses, published 15 journal articles and received more than 20 honors or awards, among them the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (four awards), Bronze Star (with “V” for valor), the Naval War College’s J. William Middendorf Prize for Strategic Research and a Catholic University Alumni Achievement Award.

Along with Catholic University’s Class of 2003, Admiral Gaffney is on the verge of closing one chapter of his life and opening another. He will retire from the Navy this summer and become president of Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Admiral Gaffney was the unanimous and first choice of Monmouth University officials for the position. In his new civilian capacity, he will not be far removed from his lifelong passion, for Monmouth University is less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean.

To this respected academic leader, admiral, ocean sciences engineer and distinguished alumnus, The Catholic University of America is pleased to grant the degree of Doctor of Education, honoris causa.



Given at Washington, District of Columbia

May seventeenth, two thousand and three