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State of the Institute: Seizing the Future of Semester at Sea

The Institute for Shipboard Education has set a revitalized course for the future of the organization and its Semester at Sea program. A new, strategic, and comprehensive plan to immediately secure and sustain the Institute into the future is now in implementation. We at ISE are genuinely excited to share the following updates with you, and optimistic about the new direction in which we’re headed. We will continue to keep you informed of any organizational updates as they unfold.

Our Shipboard Campus

This spring, the MV Explorer was placed on the open cruise ship market. Prior to the purchase of the MV Explorer in 2008, ISE leased ships for 45 years. While the MV Explorer will remain an important part of ISE history, the sale of the ship will allow ISE to revert to its original and sustainable two-voyage business model and focus exclusively on Semester at Sea voyages. The Institute’s intent is to sell the ship with a charter from the new owner, or sell the vessel and charter another ship. Through an agreement with its two European banks, ISE has ensured that Semester at Sea will sail on the MV Explorer through the Spring 2015 voyage, and possibly longer depending on the terms of the ship’s sale.

New Business Model

Beginning Fall 2014, ISE will return to a two-voyage business model with spring and fall Semester at Sea voyages. Enrichment Voyages and summer SAS voyages have been discontinued, as both programs were byproducts of ship ownership with the need to operate the ship year-round. The opportunity for continuing education will remain through the Lifelong Learning program.

Financial State of the Institute

ISE is current on all financial obligations and not in a precarious financial situation. The Institute ended its fiscal year (May 31, 2014) with positive operating results.

On May 2, ISE entered a “standstill agreement” with its two European banks to provide an orderly process for the sale of the MV Explorer. In returning to a leasing model for another ship, ISE will be relieved of the financial risks and burdens of ship ownership. The standstill agreement states that ISE is no longer responsible as a guarantor for ship debt and payment. Additionally, upon the sale of the MV Explorer (or at the latest May 15, 2015 if a sale has not been completed by that date), all financial obligations will be removed from ISE’s consolidated balance sheet. The standstill agreement reflects the Institute’s positive relationship with its bank, enabling the organization to recover its finances. Furthermore, enrollment trends for the two upcoming Semester at Sea voyages have been strong.

New Academic Sponsor

The Institute for Shipboard Education and University of Virginia have mutually agreed that U.Va.’s academic sponsorship of the Semester at Sea program will conclude by May 31, 2016. ISE has been meeting with prospective academic sponsors and is pleased with the interest expressed by a number of exceptional colleges and universities.

New Leadership at ISE

The Institute has been conducting a nationwide search for the president of the organization. Loren Crabtree, ISE trustee and former chancellor of the University of Tennessee is serving as interim president until an appointment has been made, and is overseeing the presidential search.

We will continue to share any updates regarding the state of ISE as they become available. Should you have any questions regarding these or any other matters, please contact Lauren Judge, Director of Public Affairs:

  • Life on Land

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