(VALLEJO, CA – September 6, 2013) – Captain Sam Pecota and Dr. Donna Nincic have been named the first holders of Cal Maritime’s new Distinguished Professorships.

Captain Sam Pecota has been selected to hold the Jacobsen, Stevens, Aspland Families Distinguished Professorship in Maritime Transportation. Captain Pecota will hold the position for five semesters beginning this fall.

Captain Pecota will continue to conduct research in his field of expertise, E-Navigation. Dr. Nincic will continue research in Maritime Security.

Dr. Donna Nincic has been selected to hold the Cropper Family Distinguished Professorship in the ABS School of Maritime Policy and Management. Dr. Nincic will hold the position for three years beginning this fall.

The Distinguished Professorships provide funding for an associate professor or professor to pursue research or scholarly activities, including funding for travel expenses to attend conferences or other opportunities.

“Distinguished professorships are awarded to faculty to recognize their achieved excellence in research and scholarly activity and to support continued growth in their research endeavors,” said Dr. Gerald Jakubowski, provost at Cal Maritime.

“The establishment of Distinguished Professorships is a wonderful acknowledgement of the research so many faculty members at Cal Maritime have been doing for years, and in so many maritime-related fields,” said Nincic. “While our first priority is – and always will be – teaching, many of us are also researchers – we enjoy the privilege of being able to speak to the key maritime issues of the day, and many of us feel strongly that being good scholars actually makes us better teachers.”

"Distinguished professorships, endowed chairs and other forms of outside support of faculty scholarly activities are vital to the continued relevance and enhancement of the curriculum at Cal Maritime and indeed all the California State Universities,” said Pecota. “Although the CSU mission is primarily one of educating and training undergraduate students, the scholarship of teaching and learning must be encouraged to ensure we are delivering the very best, most up to date academic programs."

The Maritime Transportation professorship was created through a gift from the families of Tom Jacobsen, Paul Stevens, and Jerry Aspland. Captain Jerry Aspland (Cal Maritime Class of 62) is the current chair of the Cal Maritime Foundation Board and Cal Maritime President Emeritus. Captain Thomas A. Jacobsen (Cal Maritime Class of 88), president and CEO of Jacobsen Pilot Service, has more than 30 years of experience in the maritime industry. Paul E. Stevens, chairman and CEO of Foss Maritime, is a member of the Cal Maritime Foundation Board.

The Cropper Family Distinguished Professorship was created through a gift from Cal Maritime President Thomas A. Cropper and his wife, Anne Heather Cropper.

“I really believe in the importance of investing in our faculty,” said President Cropper. “Heather and I wanted to reaffirm that belief through personal action. The investment in the faculty is an investment in institutional academic excellence.”

“[Cal Maritime] has given me the training I needed to be successful,” said Tom Jacobsen. “Investing back into CMA helps our entire industry by creating better leaders.

“The U.S. maritime industry is in need of well-trained mariners and strong leaders in order to maintain our global competitiveness,” explained Stevens. “On the west coast, the industry looks to Cal Maritime to train and develop these men and women. An investment in a Distinguished Professorship is an investment in the students and eventually in the health and success of the maritime industry.”

“The California Maritime Academy is a unique educational institution providing cadets with an opportunity to learn and apply their knowledge,” said Aspland. “The faculty is a key part of this process. They also need the opportunity to learn and keep current. The Distinguished Professor Program provides them with the resources to explore new ideas and incorporate them into their curriculum.”

Distinguished professorship awards provide support to help attract and retain outstanding faculty. A donor opportunity exists in the engineering area at Cal Maritime to create a third distinguished professorship.


Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, California, the campus serves nearly 1,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees preparing students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business, and global logistics. The new oceanography degree program launched in the fall of 2020. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.