The men and women of the U.S. Navy will soon be able to make Fort Hays State University their virtual "port of call" for higher education.
In twin news conferences this morning in Hays and this afternoon in Wichita, FHSU President Dr. Edward H. Hammond announced that sailors will be able to take college classes and earn bachelor's degrees through Fort Hays State's Virtual College no matter where in the world they may be stationed while serving their country.
The Navy College Program has been established in response to sailors' needs for greater access to higher education. The Navy has developed new partnerships with 16 colleges and universities to offer rating-related degrees via distance learning to sailors everywhere beginning in January 2001.
"More than 50 universities and community colleges around the nation were in the final group of institutions evaluated for the Navy College Program, so we feel greatly honored to be among the 16 institutions selected," President Hammond said. "In fact, when I attended 'Presidents' Day' in Norfolk, VA, recently with the other 16 presidents to sign memorandums of understanding with the Navy, I was told that the FHSU proposal was being used as an example for the other institutions. Our Bachelor of General Studies degree, which allows students to combine credits from previous schools with classes from FHSU's Virtual College, was the perfect model for the new Navy program."
Through its partnership with the Navy, FHSU will offer the BGS degree to sailors with emphases in Business, Information Networking and Telecommunications, Organizational Leadership, and Justice Studies. FHSU has offered the BGS degree since 1987. It also offers a very popular and similar distance learning graduate degree, the Master of Liberal Studies.
Besides announcing the Navy-FHSU partnership at the Hays campus, the university joined with the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce to present a second news conference at Wichita.
Rear Admiral Marianne Blackburn Drew represented the Navy at the Wichita news conference. Admiral Drew, who headed up the Navy College Program Implementation Team effort for the last 18 months, talked about the importance of the program for sailors.
"Our primary mission is to meet the education needs of the citizens of western Kansas, but we also realized that the Navy College Program would deliver great benefits to the economy of Kansas," Dr. Hammond explained. "The theme for this academic year at FHSU is 'Convergence,' and nothing could illustrate our theme better than this program. The Navy wants to provide the opportunity for its sailors to enhance their world-class technical training with the general knowledge and critical thinking skills available from a college education. At the same time, sailors who take courses from FHSU will seek career planning and placement assistance as they exit the Navy. FHSU will direct them to job opportunities in Kansas. This will help address the tremendous shortage of skilled workers that our state faces. Nowhere is the need for highly trained workers more acute than in Wichita's aerospace industry."
"The key to any community's future economic growth will be its ability to recruit and retain workers. In the Wichita area, our four aircraft manufacturers alone will need to hire thousands of employees during 2001 to meet their business goals," said F. Tim Witsman, president of the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce. "Our collaboration with the Fort Hays State/Navy virtual college program will enable sailors and their spouses to tap into the existing Flying in Formation recruiting partnership, as well as the Wichita NationJob Network, in order to expose them to the numerous job opportunities available in Wichita and Sedgwick County."
Flying in Formation is a partnership venture of the Chamber and Wichita's "big four" aircraft manufacturers -- The Boeing Company, Cessna Aircraft, Raytheon Aircraft and Bombardier Aerospace Learjet. The partnership was formed in the fall of 1995 in response to a growing shortage of skilled workers for the industry, Today, it supports not only recruitment initiatives, but focuses on enhancement of local training initiatives and the retention of talent in the Wichita area.
Jeff Silliman, employment manager for Bombardier Aerospace Learjet, represented Flying in Formation at the news conference and also talked about the importance of the Navy College Program for Wichita industry.
The Office of Career Services at FHSU will provide job placement assistance to sailors who take courses from Fort Hays State, just as it does for all students. Job information related to the Navy College Program is already available on the Career Services Web site, , or by calling the office at (800) 628-FHSU.
Additional information about Fort Hays State University and the Navy College Program is available on FHSU's Web site at .