KING GEORGE, Va. – Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) and the University of Mary Washington (UMW) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at a ceremony held at the UMW Dahlgren campus, Jan. 31.
NSWCDD and UMW leaders spoke about their vision for the MOU and agreed the partnership will significantly advance professional education in the field of management for the NSWCDD workforce.
“We are delighted about this opportunity and hold it up as a shining example of the partnerships we are pursuing,” said Darren Barnes, NSWCDD acting technical director, while speaking about the value of the partnership to the command’s workforce and its ultimate impact on the warfighter and the nation’s defense. “It would not be possible without the University of Mary Washington.”
The MOU enables NSWCDD employees, who qualify to enter the program, to earn a project management certificate and apply the credits toward a Master of Business Administration degree.
“We are excited at the University of Mary Washington about this partnership and program,” said Dr. Troy Paino, UMW president. “This program really aligns with our mission and vision moving forward. Partnerships matter and we’re here as a bridge to serve our community, our commonwealth, country, and the mission at Dahlgren.”
Paino and Dr. Nina Mikhalevsky, the university’s provost, signed the MOU with NSWCDD leadership – Capt. Casey Plew, NSWCDD commanding officer, and Barnes.
The ceremony’s audience – comprising mostly NSWCDD military and civilian leaders and employees, as well as University of Mary Washington leaders and staff, included local officials who shared in the excitement of the partnership.
“The campus and naval facility serve as the commercial epicenter of our community,” said Dr. Neiman Young, King George County administrator. “Whatever is good for the University of Mary Washington and the Naval Surface Warfare Center is, naturally, great for King George County. We are pleased to hear that the MOU will allow the Dahlgren campus to provide more robust programs to NSWC Dahlgren Division employees – many of whom are King George County citizens. We too support the warfighter and look forward to more collaboration with our regional partners to meet that mission.”
Putting the DON Education for Seapower Vision into Action
The MOU aligns with the Department of the Navy’s new civilian human capital strategy and education plan released in January.
The Education for Seapower (E4S) study, along with the Secretary of the Navy’s action memorandum for its establishment, aims to unify all the department’s educational institutions into a "Naval University System," beginning with a Naval Community College to enhance pathways to higher education for enlisted Sailors.
The U.S. Naval Academy, the Naval War College, Marine Corps University, Naval Postgraduate School, and the curricula of the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps and Service Officer Candidates Schools will be at the core of the Naval University System, resulting in a more cohesive whole.
The central premise is to create a more flexible education model based on shorter and more frequent periods of education that yield certifications and courses that will be aggregated (or stacked) for graduate degrees, in addition to greater in-residence opportunities, to be administered by the Naval University System.
To achieve this vision, the DON will leverage partnerships with higher learning institutions and community colleges across the country.
To position the Navy for success, the strategy is built around five key workforce and leadership strategic anchors. With phased implementation between now and 2030, these strategic anchors represent a transformational shift in workforce innovation.
Chris Clifford, NSWCDD business director, read Anchors 2 and 4, pointing out that the NSWCDD-University of Mary Washington MOU reflects key fundamentals in the DON strategy.
Anchor 2: Develop Skills for the Future – Identify, assess, and acquire the skills that the DON needs to be best equipped to do the work of the future.
Anchor 4: Strengthen the Bench of Future Talent – Embed talent development, such as next-generation learning and leadership programs, to enable a succession planning process and build a robust pipeline of the best future leaders.
The opportunity for the command’s business professionals aligns with the NSWCDD 2020-2025 Strategic Plan that emphasizes workforce development as one of Dahlgren’s strategic goals.
“As a high performance research and development organization we must ensure employees have the right skills to execute the mission,” said Clifford, adding that, “we will continuously identify and build these critical skills and prepare our leaders for tomorrow.”
Civilian Personnel Professional Development Benefits
The program is designed so employees can attend classes at the university’s Dahlgren campus at times that are convenient for them to maintain a practical work-life balance. The spring 2020 cohort of students started in January 2020 with 20 NSWCDD employees enrolled in business classes.
“Dahlgren has placed significant emphasis on advanced degrees. We have existing programs in place for graduate studies in engineering to include many technical avenues in system engineering. This program fills a critical gap in our business track in terms of an advanced degree for our business employees, so I really think this program is going to be very applicable to our folks working in contracting, financial management, and business operations across the base,” Clifford said.
The project management certificate taught at the university’s Dahlgren campus is a 12-month program. By design, the certificate program consists of courses that are part of the University of Mary Washington Master of Business Administration curriculum. Students completing the certificate program will receive 15 credit hours that can be applied toward an MBA.
“In the strategy,” Clifford remarked, “it also talks about teaming with academia and expanding our partnerships so this UMW project management certificate and MBA program and the partnership between our two organizations directly ties to the Department of the Navy human capital strategy – and that’s a big deal.”
The MOU allows applicable MBA courses for Defense Acquisition University credits to contribute to employees’ Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) acquisition professional certifications. What’s more, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) prerequisites normally required are waived for employees who have an accredited bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years of professional experience.
“You can’t really find a place more supportive of encouraging its workforce to pursue higher education,” said Barnes. “Moving forward, our commanding officer and leadership will continue to strengthen NSWC Dahlgren’s partnerships with Navy labs, industry, and academia.”
Click for more information about Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD)