|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1970-1978|
|Other work||President of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, 2005-2015|
A 1970 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Gurnon served in the United States Navy from 1970 to 1978 as a naval aviator before leaving military service. At that time, he took a position at Massachusetts Maritime Academy as a company officer. Over the years he assumed positions of greater responsibility. In 2004 he served as Acting President during the illness of president Rear Admiral Maurice Bresnahan.
Tenure as President
After Bresnahan's death, Gurnon was appointed President of the academy in 2005, a position that carries the title Rear Admiral in the United States Maritime Service. Over the course of his ten years as president, Gurnon led efforts to revitalize the academy. These efforts led to many new buildings on campus, expanded degree offerings, and a doubling of student enrollment.
Early in his tenure, however, Gurnon faced criticism from the academy's board of trustees in the midst of a school and police investigation into a student sex scandal. In December 2005, the trustees voted to remove Gurnon as President. The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education criticized the move, and later that month the trustees voted to restore Gurnon. In the aftermath, most of the trustees were replaced.
In 2009, Gurnon was interviewed frequently by media outlets after the Maersk Alabama hijacking by Somali pirates since the ship's Captain and Chief Mate were both Academy graduates. Gurnon told interviewers he expected a rise in applicants to the Academy following the dramatic events. According to the Los Angeles Times Gurnon pointed out that the Academy teaches its students about how to deter and react to pirate attacks.
On August 12, 2015, Gurnon retired as President after over ten years as President at Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he was relieved by Rear Admiral Francis X. McDonald, USMS at a formal change of command ceremony presided by Chip Jaenikin, U.S. Maritime Administrator.
- Peter Schworm, Milton Valencia (2009-04-08). "Two Mass. Maritime graduates led hijacked ship". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2009-04-16.
- Drogin, Bob; Buck, Rinker (2009-04-09). "Capt. Richard Phillips knows pirates". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2009-04-15.
The Maersk Alabama's captain and his second in command studied anti-piracy tactics at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
- Paul Gately (2009-04-14). "Mass. Maritime may see application boost after pirate saga". Daily News Tribune. Archived from the original on 2009-04-15.
The admiral said MMA has been besieged for interview requests by national news organizations in the wake of the events of the Maersk Alabama hijacking.