Twenty-Two Experienced Officers Head “Back to School” for BA Degree
Major Glen Doss teaches a course on “Personnel Management and Human Resources.”
BY OLIVIA YATES –
Twenty-two experienced officers from throughout the Western Territory headed back to school this summer to begin classes at Crestmont College toward a Bachelor of Arts Degree.
Crestmont, officially inaugurated in September 2000 as the center for education and training in the territory, received approval this spring to invite interested individuals to submit applications for a pilot program for experienced officers.
The qualifications were straightforward, according to Crestmont’s School for Continuing Education Dean, Captain Edward Hill. “Participants are required to have an AA Degree or equivalent units, at least five years in the field, and the approval of their command head,” Hill said. “We were pleased to be able to accommodate twenty-two participants for this pilot program. They were here from June 20 through July 3 for their first annual two weeks of intensive residential coursework.”
The “veteran” group joined newly commissioned Ambassadors of Grace officers to begin a five-year program culminating in a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Degree with a concentration in either Applied Management and Leadership (business and management), Bible and Christian Ministries (theology) or Caring Ministries (psychology and counseling), with limited opportunity to develop individual study programs.
Last year’s Forward 2000 graduates, who completed their first residential intensive in July 2000 and additional coursework online during the year, also returned to campus in June for their second residential, bringing the total student population for this program to 75 , according to Hill.
“Opening the BA Degree program to experienced officers is a response to the territory’s visioning process which calls for lifelong learning opportunities,” Hill said. “We have developed a ten-year plan for incrementally offering this opportunity to additional populations. In 2002, for example, we expect to be able to accommodate more officers and to open the program to qualified soldiers. By 2006 we could have as many as 300 students enrolled in the BA Degree program. The biggest challenge we face is space. We’re already taxing the size of our facility, so we may be looking at moving to double sessions.”
Major Donna Ames, Captain Edward Hill, and Major Brian Jones discuss the new BA program.
The required 90 units of coursework for the BA Degree are completed over five years through an innovative combination of distance education, on-site instruction and work-related research, according to Major Brian Jones, Director of Degree Programs and Online Studies at Crestmont College. “Students return to the campus for two weeks each summer for five years to complete core coursework, and general education classes are taken online during the year,” Jones said. “This summer, students in the various concentrations completed nine units with “Organizational Communication,” “Personnel Management and Human Resources,” “Social Work Methods,” “Crisis Counseling,” “Life Teachings of Jesus,” “Christian Formation and Discipleship,” and “Corps Development: How to Grow a Spiritually Healthy Corps.”
Jones says that highly qualified faculty were recruited to teach BA classes. “Our goal has been to seek quality educators with a high level of expertise in their field who are Salvation Army officers, and also to bring in top educators from other colleges and universities,” Jones said. “This year we were pleased to have faculty from William and Catherine Booth College, Azusa Pacific University, and the University of Wisconsin. Army faculty included Major Clarence Bradbury, D.Min, (Canadian Territory), Major Joe Wheeler (Central Territory), Major David Dunham (Eastern Territory), as well as Lt. Colonel Olin Hogan, Major Glen Doss and Major Brian Jones, D. Min. (Western Territory).”
The BA Degree program is designed to meet a territorial need to help officers in their personal and professional growth and development. “This first group included some very fine officers in our territory,” Hill said. “I was impressed by their enthusiasm. They were clearly dedicated to developing their skills and capacities as officers, and that was reflected by the quality of the work. Major Brian Jones is to be commended for his excellent work in preparing and managing the program.”
Feedback from these experienced students was generally very positive and almost unanimously highlighted the excellence of the adjunct faculty and the quality of course content. Commented one participant, “The quality was great and informative…it was almost a brain overload.” According to another, “The workload was heavy but to be stretched is what I expected. It was terrific!” Captain Dennis Earnhart, ARC administrator in Long Beach, CA says that what he learned is relevant to his ministry. “I liked the interaction between teachers and students, the open discussions and good communication,” Earnhart said. To Captain Wayne Bruce, associate corps officer in Great Falls, MT, further education is the answer to a prayer. “I learned more in the Human Resource class in three days than I had learned in eight years in the field,” Bruce said. “And the Corps Development class taught by four instructors was excellent. It should be brought into the field and taught to every officer.”
“We look forward to being able to serve all those who are interested in furthering their education through the Army,” Hill said. “And we know it’s a plus to have diversity of this kind in the classroom. We are confident that our newly commissioned officers will continue to benefit from the experience and enthusiasm of older officers who have chosen to return to the classroom.”
Participants who joined the BA Degree program in June 2001 as experienced officers are: Lt. Colonel Sherryl Van Cleef, Majors Millie Bearchell, George and Julie Beauchamp, Ronald Gilden, Ronda Gilger, Arnold Hassler, Leslie Peacock, and David Sholin, and Captains Wayne and Connie Bruce, Bill Dickinson, Dennis Earnhart, Larry Feist, Ron Fenrich II, Sul-Ju (Ruth) Lee, Michelle Lescano, Amanda Mitchell, Mark Nelson, Brenda Smith, Laura Sullivan, and John Van Cleef.
Photos by Sue Schumann Warner