New university to take lead in educating Army civilians
December 15, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Dec. 15, 2008) -- The new Army Civilian University is taking its first major step by assuming oversight of the Army Management Staff College at Fort Belvoir, Va.
AMSC has been the Army's premier school for civilian leader education for more than two decades and its transfer to ACU will take place over a 60-day period from Dec. 1 until Jan. 30.
The Army Civilian University was established last year by Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George Casey Jr. as a direct answer to several studies recommending greater access to education for the Civilian Corps. When they signed a memorandum approving Army Initiative 5 to "accelerate leader development," they created Army Civilian University.
For Army civilians - and for the Army as a whole -- this is very good news, said ACU President Jim Warner, who has a master's degree in business administration from Harvard. He also served as deputy commandant of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., before retiring from the Army as a brigadier general.
"We want to provide a system that enables all civilian employees to reach their aspirations and their potential," Warner said about Army Civilian University.
This will be done by fostering collaboration, he said. The new university will have the ability to look across a broad spectrum of activities, he said, and it will work to establish more effective and efficient leadership development.
One thing ACU won't do, however, is dictate curriculum, Warner said. He said universities typically do two things:
-- Take the administration burden off schools and
-- Advance modern education methodologies.
"Mathematicians and poets are not studying learning methods," Warner said, emphasizing that they focus on subject-matter expertise. "They'd still be sitting in wooden chairs and scratching on blackboards" if left to their own devices, Warner said.
The Army Civilian University will not be a bricks and mortar institution at Fort Belvoir, Warner said, although he and his staff are currently moving there to Building 1466 on Gunston Road.The new university is a "governance construct," Warner said. It will connect the institutions that focus on educating Army civilians, he said. Right now, that's AMSC, but Warner said he will over time look at other schools that Army civilians attend, adding there are 17 schools currently associated with civilian career programs.
In the past, the Army relied strictly on career programs to chart the training path of civilian employees, Warner said.
"It turns out, about half of the civilian workforce is not in a career field," Warner said. "We need to do some catch-up."
So some changes are being made. The proponent for civilian leader development used to be in G-1, but the proponent for military leader-development was the G-3. Now the G-3 will be over both civilian and military education, and that will be implemented through the Army Training and Doctrine Command.
TRADOC's Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth already has oversight of AMSC, and in fact has a campus there teaching AMSC courses. A CAC fragmentary order, dated Nov. 26, transferred AMSC to the Army Civilian University.
Warner said he will be looking across the Army for where civilian education can be executed more efficiently.
"My assessment of what we have in the Army: We probably have the best of everything - somewhere," Warner said.
"But not everybody's that good," he said. Not all schools have state-of-the-art facilities and technologies available. That's why the ACU will gather the best ideas and technologies and share them, he said. It will also assist in the creation of career-development pathways from federal service recruitment to senior executive service.
It's especially hard for an employee to transition when first promoted to a supervisory position, Warner said.
"I need to build a bridge to get him from subordinate to supervisor," Warner said. "It's a huge jump."
"This is the training gap that we have to fill."
It's also hard for employees to make the jump from senior civilian to SES, Warner said. That's why the Army Senior Fellows program was established, he said.
"However, front and center, Army Civilian University's mission is about enhancing our Army's ability to accomplish its diverse and demanding missions..." Warner said."The Army can't do this without a trained and ready civilian workforce."
(A news release from the U.S. Army Civilian Senior Leader Development Office contributed to this article.)