Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.-- Defense Acquisition University students and Research, Development and Engineering Command senior leaders formally opened the newly renovated building that houses the DAU's Senior Service College in a ribbon cutting ceremony held Sep. 18.

Aberdeen Proving Ground is the third installation to permanently host the Senior Service College Fellowship program, which was first established at Huntsville, AL, in August 2006, created to develop civilian acquisition leaders in the preparation for senior leadership roles in the acquisition community.

"The program is designed to take people from the Department of the Army, who are already fairly senior civilians, and take them through a leadership oriented school for ten months. As part of that school, they study various leadership topics, they have an opportunity to network, and they also complete a master's degree as part of the curriculum," Robert L. Daugherty, Dean of the DAU Capital and Northeast Region, explained.

"When they come out of the other side the Department of the Army looks at them to fill very senior positions as leaders of programs, as product directors, of those types of roles now that they've been prepared for that leadership. The Army was lacking this type of preparation for civilian leadership. It has it for the military, but it didn't have it for the civilians," Daugherty continued.

While many Acquisition Corps members were willing to participate in the ten month program, the eight fellows that complete the inaugural class had to undergo a highly competitive application process in order to qualify for the fellowship.

"The Department of the Army has a board that meets and decides on who is ready for this level of school, this level of education, and this level of responsibility," Daugherty said.

"It's a centralized selection board where they actually go through, and the board determines who are the best candidates, and selects the best eight fellows. It's very competitive," James Oman, Site Director for the Senior Service College Fellowship Program at Aberdeen Proving Ground, added.

"This is history," RDECOM Commander Maj. Gen. Paul S. Izzo stressed to the audience of DAU students, as he explained the part acquisition will play within the Army in an ever-changing environment.

"As the world changes, the Army changes, the way we fight changes and the paradigm must shift from how we've done it in the past to what we'll do in the future.

"The most important thing is we have to build the bench for the next generation, set those examples, and show them why we're doing this. [Acquisition] is not sexy, but it's important," Izzo said.

"In these times when technology is rapidly changing...we can't go back to business as usual. You need to think about growing the bench...not just in terms of your own program, but of future Army leaders," Daugherty said as he elaborated on Izzo's comments.

"Be a role model. Be a mentor. Make sure that we take and groom our young folks and teach them the right way to do things, and provide them opportunities," Daugherty echoed one of the main objectives of the SSCF.

Daugherty believes that the acquisition community has thus far skillfully adapted to the previously mentioned paradigm shift. "We've gone from having very austere capabilities out there for our Soldiers to more robust capabilities in a very short timeframe," he said.

Daugherty added, "Don't pay too much attention to the latest acquisition buzz. The basics haven't changed. Think beyond what the regulations are telling you, and try to find new ways of doing things, creative way of doing things," warning against complacency within the community.