Commandant brings strong military leadership to campus

Todd Wallingford

For a school with rich traditions of military values and high academic standards, we strive to be great in these areas. Under the leadership of our Commandant, Todd Wallingford, the military structure, discipline and leadership are under his purview. The Office of the Commandant keep a watchful eye on all areas that involve the student: leadership, character development, overall behavior, military traditions, and the well-being of his corps of cadets.

In A Tale of Two Campuses, the author, RADM Richard Wheeler, describes Admiral Farragut Academy as being created “with a solid established military orientation.”

According to Wheeler, “its military department under the Commandant, Lieutenant Jackson Lahn, directed the training and discipline of the corps of cadets.” Over the decades since the school’s inception in the early part of the 20th century, the Office of the Commandant has played an integral part in producing students who have gone on to do tremendous things in life.

This school year seems to be a flashback to the early days of military structure when a preparatory school with naval training built its cultural foundation. One of the men involved in reinvigorating that spirit has been the Commandant, Todd Wallingford.

Since joining Farragut in the 2014-15 school year, Commandant Wallingford has had a major impact on the school. In a short amount of time, he has consolidated departments, assembled a new staff, instilled a new sense of pride in the cadets, implemented a new discipline system, played a large role in updating the dorms from a tangible and cultural standpoint, and implemented new policies and procedures.

Bringing 16 years of experience from Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, a school with a long history and tradition, Commandant Wallingford is committed to ensuring that Farragut continues to be one of most respected institutions in the country.

“My goal is to return Farragut to its roots in regard to a military structure and attitude,” said Wallingford, who is responsible for Naval Science, residential life, security, student discipline, operations, safety, and the well-being of the Corps of Cadets. “The alumni look at the tradition and they have a sense of pride with regard to Farragut’s foundation and traditions.”

Under Wallingford’s guidance, Farragut’s Regimental Officers reported a week early and went through rigorous and comprehensive training. The emphasis of their training was on “Servant Leadership,” focusing on the operational aspects of the regiment and the dorms.

“They will be front and center and proactive in interfacing with our cadets in every facet of their academy life,” Wallingford said. “The Regimental Staff meets at least weekly with Naval Science to debrief and to be briefed. Their leadership educational process is ongoing. Our cadet officers have stepped up, and their presence in all aspects of academy life is evident and significant.”

Commandant Wallingford also addressed the boarding cadets on their first evening on campus, reviewing policies, procedures, and expectations. He then spoke to the Corps of Cadets in a combined assembly of day students and boarders on the first day of school. For the first time in two decades, the regiment was in uniform on the first day of classes.

Todd Wallingford

“Cadets want a structured environment and they thrive with self-discipline and that’s what we’ve stressed,” said Wallingford, who has worked closely with new staff members, Naval Science Commander Rick Schock and United States Marine Corps 1st Sgt. David Worthy to establish this new mentality. “The cadets have to take ownership of this process and we’ve empowered them to lead and to set an example and lead by example. Schock and Worthy have made a big difference, as well. We have worked well as a team. Working together as a team, both from the executive standpoint and along with the cadets, will allow us to become successful.”

Some of the things the Office of the Commandant and the Naval Science department have implemented include:

  • weekly physical training exercises with 1st Sgt. Worthy leading the cadets in run formations around campus, complete with military cadence
  • a new tradition with the raising of the American flag that had flown over the north campus at the first formation of the 2015-16 school year; alumni from the north campus presented the flag to the Class of 2016 in a ceremony preceding the raising of the flag
  • The Regiment, Staff, and faculty formed on the West Grinder for a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony while a detail of 18 cadets representing Farragut served as Honor Guard for an annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony in downtown St. Petersburg
  • new standards in residential life, including more distinct room inspection procedures and protocols in the dormitory
  • instruction on the proper wear and appearance of military uniforms with daily inspection by cadet officers and Naval Science instructors; staff and faculty have been briefed on uniform standards and will monitor cadets on campus and in the classroom for adherence to standards
  • education on military customs, courtesies, and traditions
  • upgrade to quarterdeck policies and procedures and standards; cadets serving watch at the quarterdeck wear covers and white duty belts
  • revision of discipline standards, policies, and procedures; cadets have been thoroughly briefed on academy rules and regulations

How our cadets are reacting:

“I’m really excited about the change,” said Kollyne Thomas ’16, who is the Battalion Commander of the Delta Battalion of the 2015-16 Regiment staff. “There has been a lot more structure and more organization. It’s really going to bring back our military flair. We’re giving a lot more responsibility to the incoming cadets and taking ownership on how to shape our character and being accountable for our actions.”