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Board of Visitors lauds community, Air University programs

Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, Air University commander, explains the structure of the university to the AU Board of Visitors during a Tuesday breakfast meeting in downtown Montgomery. (Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers)

Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, Air University commander, explains the structure of the university to the AU Board of Visitors during a Tuesday breakfast meeting in downtown Montgomery. (Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- During a breakfast meeting for members of the Air University Board of Visitors Tuesday, Dr. Bruce Murphy, Air University chief academic officer, said the group's role in the operation of Air University is an important one.

"The Board of Visitors is older than the Air Force," he said.

The group is chartered to provide advice and recommendations on the educational, doctrinal and research policies of the university. Members are selected from education and business industries and meet twice a year.

Tuesday's meeting, which took place in downtown Montgomery, focused on the relationship between Air University and the local community.

Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, Air University commander, said the Board of Visitors meeting is "a big deal for us," and helps the university showcase the relationship it has with the River Region.

"We were glad to be able to hold this breakfast in a rejuvenated part of downtown Montgomery because AU is a part of that community," he said. "I think the way the base worked with Prattville following the tornado strike earlier this year is an example of how we respond to the community's needs."

Mayor Jim Byard of Prattville reinforced the general's statement, saying Maxwell-Gunter and River Region communities are "one family-one team."

After the breakfast, board members moved to the Renaissance Hotel to discuss the breakout sessions board members participated in the day before.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Paul, a former Boeing Company vice president, said his focus group visited the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, and examined the need for Air Force Ph.D.s and the university's proposed doctorate program.

"SAASS has such a good reputation that the value of a PhD earned by its students will hold on its own merit," he said. "Our group heard several SAASS students say their private sector master's programs were hard, but nothing compared to SAASS. They are having to work much harder and are learning much more at SAASS."

An issue for one of the BOVs is having international officers leave classrooms when classified information is discussed.

"It's not very hospitable to invite these officers to the school then ask them to leave when classified is talked about," said Norm Augustine, a former chief executive officer and chairman of Lockheed Martin. "Having foreign student attend U.S. schools makes a difference, so SAASS might go out of its way not to have classified information discussions."

The chancellor of Troy University is the Board of Visitors chair-elect, and called the vision of Air University bold and its leadership extraordinary.

"Troy has served the military for the last 50 years, and the genesis for that service is Maxwell," Dr. Jack Hawkins said. "We took the concept at Maxwell worldwide for the mutual benefit of both Troy and the military, and it has helped shape the culture at Troy University. We owe so much to our relationship with Air University, and we have tried to give back to the men and women of the military."

Dr. Hawkins said the students at Air University are mature, focused and serious about their education, and they expect the best.

Dr. Jan Kehoe, a former Board of Visitors chair and the former CEO and president of the Community College Leadership Development Initiative Foundation, has been a member of BOV since 1997.

"The educational value of Board of Visitors for the Air Force is getting the outside perspective of board members," she said. "For the members, it exposes many of us to the benefits and the historical side of this part of the country."

Dr. Kehoe considers serving on the board one of the greatest honors of her career, and she appreciates the fact that the board is a working group and membership is not a political reward.

"BOV was instrumental in getting Air University accredited," she said. "AU will educationally equip the Air Force for the future and will adapt to changes that are coming."

Dr. Murphy said feedback from board members had been very positive, and Board of Visitors members often give Air University staff comments concerning areas they have overlooked.