4/17/2014 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Superintendents, deans of faculty, athletic directors and admission directors from all U.S. service academies gathered here for the annual Conference of Service Academy Superintendents April 9-11 to discuss issues of concern and share best practices.

During the plenary session, representatives from the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Air Force Academy and Naval Academy (via video teleconference) discussed similar challenges the academies are facing, from budget cuts to sexual assault elimination and character development.

"This is a historic inflection point, our academies are extremely similar," said Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson. "USAFA's essence easily translates across land, sea, and air."

Senior leaders attended a Cadet Wing parade in their honor and toured the Unmanned Aerial System Remotely Piloted Aircraft Battlelab. Breakout sessions were conducted on topics including the effects of the FY15 Budget on the service academies, the honor process, character development plans and assessment, the athletic department budget and review of the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence.

Superintendents discussed the fiscal year budget cuts due to sequestration and the effects on training and education. The panel's consensus was to create a cross-functional team to develop a strategic look at the essence of service academies.

"This long term, budget climate will be pertinent," said U.S. Maritime Service superintendent Rear Adm. James A. Helis, of the U.S Merchant Marine Academy. "We must continue to develop leaders of character for our nation by providing a high quality experience. Our cadets deserve it, our nation demands it."

The Academy led the discussion on the most recent Defense Department Sexual Harassment and Violence Report at the U.S. Military Service Academies. Leaders discussed best practices and lessons learned on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

"Though each Academy is treated differently, ultimately, we are treated equally in the eyes of the public," said U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Admiral Michael Miller.

COSAS is rotated among the service academies and is held at USAFA every five years. This is the 55th year of the event and allows all academies to examine matters of mutual interest.