Leading The Way

A partnership between the Delaware National Guard and Wilmington University alumni proves advantageous — and it’s the first of its kind in the nation.

military cohort- by Ron DubickCommand Sgt. Maj. Robert Miller made a commitment to serve his country more than 30 years ago when he joined the army. Miller earned a joint branch position as a state command sergeant at the Delaware National Guard, which means that he’ll work with the Air National Guard as well as the Army National Guard.

Miller and 10 other soldiers and airmen completed the yearlong Delaware Leadership Academy program, a partnership between the Delaware National Guard and Wilmington University — the only one of its kind in the nation.

The program consists of six modules covering topics like joint operations, strategic leadership and crisis decision-making. It features accelerated seven-week modules and combines distance learning with classroom instruction. Its graduates earn 18 credit hours toward a master’s in homeland security or management, with a concentration in military leadership.

The program was especially practical for Miller. As the state command sergeant major, he advises adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, on enlisted soldier issues and policies for the Air and Army National Guard.

But for WilmU alumna Chief Master Sgt. Robbin Moore, who worked as a Delaware Leadership Academy volunteer class facilitator and program auditor in 2009 and 2010 before becoming a WilmU student, the program helped broaden her credentials for future civilian life. She has spent the past 21 years in the military and is intrigued by the complexities of the organizational framework.

“The entire cohort came together for a two-day intensive workshop and applied its knowledge and practical skills to deliver emergency response plans that worked on both the active duty and guardsmen levels,” says Moore.

She is also completing her dissertation requirements for WilmU’s Ed.D. in organizational learning, leadership and innovation. Her research topic is Comprehensive Morale Plans for the Military of a Developing Country.

Other program graduates in the private/civilian sector like Chief Warrant Officer and WilmU alumnus Mike Patterson, the director of facilities at Delaware County (Pa.) Memorial Hospital, benefit immensely from the offering.

Patterson says it was easy for him to integrate his coursework into his daily job. He earned an MBA from WilmU in 1985 and has extensive managerial experience, but felt he still wanted to grow professionally. “I drew a wealth of information from hearing everyone give their background and approach to solving problems,” he says.

These alumni stories showcase what now-retired Lt. Col. Andrew Hartnett, WilmU’s College of Business MBA assistant chair, says is the pinnacle of the Delaware Leadership Academy. Its value applies to military and civilian leaders, whether they’re full-time or part-time, in the military or private sector.

The program was designed to bridge the gap between Air National and Army National Guard services in day-to-day operations, whether stationed in Delaware or on active duty anywhere around the globe.

When Hartnett  designed and developed  the courses, under the guidance of now-retired Maj. Gen. Dr.Hugh Broomall, another WilmU alumnus who completed his DBA, he realized its benefit would be felt beyond the Army and Air National Guard. The two worked with WilmU’s Dr. ClintRobertson, director of MBA graduate business programs, to create the partnership that integrated the courses into the master’s degree programs as an added incentive to service members.

“National guardsmen are unique in that they live in the communities they serve,” says Hartnett. He adds that this program trains members how to be fully effective leaders. The academy graduates are more effective leaders in their military and civilian roles, as well as in their communities.

Since its inception, the program has produced 87 graduates. Twenty have already completed their master’s degrees at WilmU, and 38 are working toward their graduate degrees.  WU