A unique program between the College of Education and Human Development and the U.S. Army Cadet Command is educating college instructors and leaders for ROTC programs across the nation.
Captain Nathan Hanners completed the Master Educator Course (MEC) in the fall, and expressed enthusiasm for returning to his position at John Carroll University in Cleveland, now better equipped to engage with students.
“I was unleashed to work with freshmen students, and although I knew all the material to teach classes, I am excited to get all these great, new ideas to take back to our programs this year,” he said.
MEC is designed to educate the Army ROTC instructors about higher education policies and practices, including teaching and instructional strategies, facilitation of learning, curriculum development, and organizational analysis.
UofL’s Jeffrey Sun, project director and professor of higher education, worked collaboratively with the U.S. Army to conceive and design the project, which was originally developed in 2014. The initiative was inspired by a joint offering between Columbia University and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Sun also worked on that program rollout in 2004.
The UofL/Army program offers programming opportunities on a bi-annual basis. CEHD professors teach approximately 60 MEC students, who are active-duty soldiers, from throughout the U.S. Delivered across two modules: face-to-face residential module in Fort Knox, and the clinical module delivered online, cadets receive personal and in-depth coaching and mentoring from experienced higher education professionals.
MEC students attend classes during the day and engage in extensive reading and writing assignments during the evenings and weekends. Sprinkled in throughout the program are social activities, which emphasize networking and learning the student experience, along with leadership development seminars about higher education administration.
Soldier placements range across institution types. The most recent group of students represented Georgia State, Mississippi State, Norfolk State, Northwestern, UCLA, Prairie View A&M and Tuskegee. The program is selective and diverse, with students of color representing more than 40% of soldiers in the latest course.
For 1st Lieutenant Keila Roper, returning to her alma mater at Fort Valley State University in Georgia is an opportunity to change the way things were done during her time as a cadet. She says the MEC program also helped her foster communication across ranks.
“I feel like this program allows for young lieutenants like us to pick the brains of more seasoned guys. If we’re in uniform, or somewhere on base, we’d be intimidated to ask some of the things we’ve asked. But this program fosters an open policy to be able to have conversations that are open – it’s great,” Roper said.
Roper, along with 1st Lieutenant Stherline Joseph, is recipient of the General Patton Internship, a program intended to increase diversity in the Army.
Major William R. Hale II is in the twilight of his military career, and says MEC was an opportunity to see career options beyond the military.
“MEC exposes us to higher education administration and give us some tools and a degree to pursue something different after a military career. It’s a great opportunity, paid for by the Army, for us to be able to get professional and personal development toward future goals,” Hale said.
Upon completion of the MEC program, students earn 18 hours of graduate credit, and are encouraged to continue their academic work in pursuit of a master’s degree in higher education administration.
The College of Education and Human Development’s Nina Marijanovic contributed to this article.