"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ACSC/DL Should Lose its Accreditation

I am now of the opinion the Air Command and Staff College Distance Learning (ACSC/DL) program should lose its accreditation for a master's degree. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools which accredits the degree has the following faculty requirement in its Principles of Accreditation. According to the document, several principles need to be "enforced by the institution" including this requirement:

“The institution ensures adequate procedures for safeguarding and protecting academic freedom.”

The academic freedom violation referred to here was elevated to the Air University (AU) Chief Academic Officer more than two months ago in accordance with AUI 36-2308. Despite the violation being a textbook case of non-attribution violation with a clear punitive intent and regardless of the admission of violation made by the student to the course instructor, the AU Chief Academic Officer has not even made a recommendation to the AU commander. The offending officer's emails soured my chain of command, prompted negative action from a general officer in that chain, and reportedly included an email sent from a CSAF executive officer which found its way to my immediate supervisor. It's amazing to me that no action has been taken. I suppose the offending student will have completed with his degree soon enough and then any punishment will likely not matter. The consistent lack of action leads me to the conclusion that academic freedom is not provided or protected in the ACSC/DL program and it appears it may be lacking in Air University itself. For these reasons, I believe ACSC/DL should lose its accreditation.

ACSC/DL leadership refused to remove the field grade officer from the class for his violation (demonstrating they were unconcerned with the threat he posed to the other students in the class) and instead they censored me from being able to post in the online course discussion. Why did they censor me?

It seems to me they wanted to punish me over a battle I was fighting with ACSC/DL concerning their Cultural Studies course instructor (who used to be an associate Dean of Air War College) who had established a punitive environment and acted unprofessionally in the course. A half dozen other field grade officers in the course also supported my complaint. At least one field grade officer in the class filed a separate complaint. Despite words and assurances ACSC/DL leadership refused to remedy the situation.

It's definitely not just me. I was recently contacted by another field grade officer who read this blog and he detailed a very similar experience with the same Cultural Studies course instructor. He also described similar comments from ACSC/DL leadership regarding the instructor. He was still angry from the outcome months after the issue so much so that he began searching the internet to see if others had experienced the same thing. That is how he found this blog. He says he will post his experiences in a comment shortly.

I find myself wondering why ACSC/DL leadership doesn't truly value feedback and why they don't act on it from multiple field grade officers to make the program better. Perhaps they don't think the Air Force yet faces enough challenges. Whatever the reason, this particular situation is a trend item and symptomatic of a failure of leadership and a culture in need of serious reform. Air University has significant cultural problems and it doesn't appear to be in a rush to fix the issues. AUI 36-2308 states:

"If satisfactory resolution is not obtained at the organization or activity level, the individual may elevate the complaint to the Air University Chief Academic Officer (AU/CF), who will, in coordination with the AU Legal Office (AU/JA), review the case and provide a recommendation to the AU Commander (AU/CC). The decision of the AU Commander is final."

Unfortunately it doesn't specify a timeline. It seems academic freedom isn't really important when an unpopular voice dissents against somebody in the club that runs the Air Force. I hope I'm wrong but there is absolutely nothing in my experience with this pretend academic institution to inspire optimism.

4 comments:

  1. The other field grader who contacted me changed his mind on posting. Basically he said his problem was with the one instructor only (instead of also with the the leadership culture that refuses to act on his and multiple other complaints made against the instructor).

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