The Superintendent from l8l7-l833 was Colonel Sylvanus Thayer. He is known as the "father of the Military Academy". He upgraded academic standards, instilled military discipline and emphasized honorable conduct. Thayer made civil engineering the foundation of the curriculum. For the first half century, USMA graduates were largely responsible for the construction of the bulk of the nation's initial railway lines, bridges, harbors and roads.
The development of other technical schools in the US during the post-Civil War period allowed West Point to broaden its curriculum beyond a strict civil engineering focus.
After World War I, Superintendent Douglas MacArthur sought to further diversify the academic curriculum. In recognition of the physical demands of modern warfare, [[MacArthur]] pushed for major changes in the physical fitness and athletic programs. "Every cadet an athlete" became an important goal. At the same time, the cadet management of the Honor System, long an unofficial tradition, was formalized with the creation of the Cadet Honor Committee.
In recent decades, the Academy's curricular structure was markedly changed to permit cadets to major in any one of more than a dozen fields, including a wide range of subjects from the sciences to the humanities.
Academy graduates are awarded a bachelor of science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, serving a minimum of five years on active duty followed by 3 years in the reserves.
West Point's motto is "Duty, Honor, Country".
Official website: http://www.usma.edu/