Georgia Southern President, Kyle Marrero (left) and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Col. Manny Ramirez (center) pose for a photo next to a signed Memorandum of Agreement, July 31 at the SFC Paul R. Smith Education Center on Fort Stewart. Georgia Southern's live Bald Eagle mascot "Freedom" and his falconer Steve Hein (right) were also on hand to add to the celebration from above. The MOA signing served as the official announcement of the partnership between Fort Stewart and GSU to offer a series of tailored graduate programs for Soldiers and their dependents.
Georgia Southern President, Kyle Marrero (left) and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Col. Manny Ramirez (center) pose for a photo next to a signed Memorandum of Agreement, July 31 at the SFC Paul R. Smith Education Center on Fort Stewart. Georgia Southern's live Bald Eagle mascot "Freedom" and his falconer Steve Hein (right) were also on hand to add to the celebration from above. The MOA signing served as the official announcement of the partnership between Fort Stewart and GSU to offer a series of tailored graduate programs for Soldiers and their dependents. (Photo Credit: Dina McKain) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Stewart, Ga.— Freedom found a new nest in Southeast Georgia this week as Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and Georgia Southern University announced a partnership to expand educational opportunities for 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers and their families.

The partnership will allow Georgia Southern to offer graduate courses in business administration, health administration, information technology, professional communications and leadership, cybercrime, and professional communication and leadership. The courses will be offered in shorter terms to accommodate the unique challenges faced by service members and their families.

Leaders from the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison and Georgia Southern University gathered in the SFC Paul R. Smith Education Center on Fort Stewart, July 31 to celebrate the monumental occasion. Georgia Southern's live Bald Eagle mascot "Freedom" and his falconer Steve Hein were also in attendance.

“It is an honor to officially announce this groundbreaking partnership between Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and Georgia Southern University,” said Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Col. Manny Ramirez. “This collaboration will provide incredible opportunities and possibilities for our Soldiers and their families.”

Currently, the Education Centers on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield offer a number of associate and bachelors degree options through their partnerships with Savannah Technical College and Columbia University. The addition of Georgia Southern will ensure that the Dogface Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division and their family members are able to pursue all levels of higher education in a flexible atmosphere that meets the needs of the ever-evolving military environment.

“One of the key pillars of this partnership has been the accessibility to master’s degree programs right here on our grounds,” Ramirez said. “We understand the unique challenges faced by our service members and their families, and this initiative aims to alleviate those challenges while also empowering our community to reach new heights academically and professionally.”

Unlike the typical 15-week college term, Georgia Southern plans to offer unique programs with shorter terms in order to ensure that Soldiers and their dependents can earn their degrees in a timely and effective way.

“We are excited to add additional educational opportunities to the Army Education Centers on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield,” said Dr. Olivia Penrod, director of Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Education Services. “Everyone in our military community can use the Education Centers. We always say that today is a great day to start an education with us, and we look forward to working with Georgia Southern University and our new students in the very near future.”

The newly-minted educational partnership isn't the first time that Georgia Southern and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield have combined efforts to support Soldier development. In November 2022, the two entities, along with the Georgia National Guard, signed a formal agreement to incorporate the expertise of Georgia Southern's physical therapy students through a Tactical Athlete Program that focuses on Soldier health and readiness. Adding to Georgia Southern's commitment to advancing the education of their military-connected students, the university was also recently recognized as a Military Friendly Gold School for 2023-2024 by the military-centric publishing company, Viqtory. This is the sixth year the university has earned this distinction.

“This is a beginning and a continuation to the future, the legacy, and the belief in the transformational power of education,” said Georgia Southern University President Kyle Marrero. “We are proud and excited to be part of this partnership.”

Georgia Southern’s courses will begin this fall at both the Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Education Centers. The Georgia Southern staff will also have dedicated offices onsite to help students with admissions, fee waivers, military scholarship opportunities, education for academic credit, and Joint Service Transcript review.

“Here at Fort Stewart, we have always believed in investing in our most precious asset which is our people,” Ramirez said. “Today, this partnership is a shining testament to that belief. By adding Georgia Southern to our stable of schools here at the Education Center, we are opening doors to advanced education, professional development, and a brighter future for all of our Soldiers, family members, and all the people who call Fort Stewart home.”

The Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Education Centers also offer a variety of certificate programs such as English as a Second Language, a General Education Diploma course, and a Basic Skills Education program aimed to help Soldiers improve their General Technical scores for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

To learn more about the Education Centers or the new Georgia Southern partnership, call 912-767-8331 or 912-315-6130.

Fort Stewart’s SFC Paul R. Smith Education Center will also host over 20 colleges and universities this Thursday, Aug. 3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during their first ever Education Fair; an event they hope to continue annually. The fair is free and open to all.