On June 15, Brandeis School of Law Dean Susan Duncan boarded a Black Hawk helicopter with other Louisville leaders.
What took the dean off campus for such an out-of-the-ordinary ride?
She was participating in Boss Lift Day, sponsored by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program of the U.S. Department of Defense. The program “promotes cooperation and understanding between reserve members and their civilian employers.”
“You could learn a lot by spending time with the military,” Duncan said. “I’ve always had great respect for those who serve our country, but I left with a greater understanding of their service.”
Duncan and her group gathered in Frankfort and boarded a Black Hawk helicopter to the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., a journey of about 170 miles.
After watching field training exercises, the group attended a debriefing session where service members reviewed the exercise and discussed ways to increase effectiveness and safety.
“I was impressed with how much leadership training they get,” Duncan said about the service members. “It’s not just field training on how to do the mission. A lot of it is about working with a group and how to motivate people.”
Duncan also had the opportunity to speak with soldiers individually. She gravitated toward the female soldiers.
“I was so inspired by their tenacity and their strength — not just physically, but in the midst of huge change,” she said, referring to the military’s recent lift of its gender-based service restrictions. “I felt it gave me strength as a woman trying to succeed in a male-dominated field.”
Also of note to Duncan was the unified spirit among the soldiers. In civilian jobs, it’s not uncommon to see divisions among departments. But in the military, there’s a focus on a common mission and a commitment from all members to accomplish a goal.
Duncan has noticed that same discipline in Brandeis Law students who are in the military.
“They fit so well with what we what we do at Brandeis because it’s who they are,” she said, adding that they’re not often intimidated by law school. “It’s just another challenge they can do if they put their minds to it.”