GW to Educate Next Generation of Naval Academy Leaders

The university has been selected to provide a graduate program for USNA company officers.

Naval Academy
June 02, 2014

By Lauren Ingeno

The George Washington University has been selected to create a graduate-level leadership program for company officers in their first year of service at the United States Naval Academy (USNA).

A company officer’s primary responsibility is to serve as a mentor and role model for around 150 midshipmen, helping them to reach their potential and preparing them for the leadership challenges in the Fleet Reserve and Fleet Marine Force upon graduation.

The 45-credit Master of Arts degree in Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) will blend coursework from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and USNA to prepare company officers to be leaders in the USNA, the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) and for continued future service in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

The competitive LEAD program accepts high-quality Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard junior officers. Company officers will spend the first year of their three-year tour as full-time students, taking five courses offered through CCAS, five through GSEHD and five through USNA. The program will develop students’ abilities to think critically and analytically, focusing on the skills essential for understanding, designing and conducting team development.

“Company officers are critically important to the Naval Academy’s mission of developing midshipmen into leaders for the Navy and Marine Corps,” said Lt. Colonel Carroll J. Connelley, the deputy director of USNA’s Leadership Education and Development Division. “The Naval Academy is thrilled to partner with the George Washington University in ensuring our company officers receive a world-class graduate education before assuming this important responsibility.”

GW’s first cohort of 16 LEAD students will begin their academic program in June. LEAD students will take classes with graduate students within and outside of their cohort.

The cohort of 16 students will begin their M.A. program at GW in June.

LEAD Program Director Clay Warren, chair of the Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication and a USNA class of 1968 graduate, said the intensive LEAD curriculum is interdisciplinary by design.

“This program will be bringing in many different perspectives, so these students will receive a broader approach to leadership and how to conceive it,” said Dr. Warren.  “The Naval Academy is a prestigious place, and GW is honored and excited to be educating the future leaders of our nation’s military.”

Dr. Warren will serve on the LEAD advisory board alongside three others with higher education and military experience: Vice Admiral (retired) Mel Williams Jr., associate provost for military and veteran affairs; Lt. Colonel (ret.) Alfred Hamilton, assistant professor in the Milken Institute School of Public Health and senior adviser to the associate provost for military and veteran affairs; and Lt. Colonel (ret.) Clyde Croswell, assistant professor in GSEHD. The members of this board will provide expertise and ensure the program is capable of integrating the concepts, techniques and practical experience that will prepare the students for current and future operations.

Adm. Williams, a 1978 USNA graduate, said GW is uniquely qualified to offer the LEAD program.

“This program is aligned with the initiatives of GW VALOR, whereby we collectively endeavor to connect our nation’s military and veteran community with quality GW academic opportunities,” Adm. Williams said. “GW’s high-quality education, combined with our commitment to supporting military, veteran and military family member students distinguished GW from the other universities that competed for the USNA LEAD program.”

As the program develops, the university plans to host an annual VALOR Distinguished LEAD Speaker Series, which will feature speakers who can talk about leadership principles learned through military experiences.

Dr. Hamilton pointed to the common bond shared by GW and USNA: In 1794, George Washington persuaded Congress to authorize a new naval force, in order to combat the growing menace of piracy on the high seas, and subsequently, a naval school was formed. In 1821, the George Washington University was created through an Act of Congress, fulfilling the president’s vision of an institution in the nation’s capital dedicated to educating and preparing future leaders.

“GW and USNA share a commitment to preparing our nation’s future military leaders,” Dr. Hamilton said. “We understand the importance of success, which is guided by individual and organizational values. GW’s values of learning, service and excellence will help guide our commitment to the success of the students during and after the completion of this program.”