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Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumni, from left, U.S. Navy Capt. Douglas Beaver ’91, Virginia State Police Trooper Derek Stotler ’13, and U.S. Air Force Capt. Amanda (McGrath) Miller ’12 talked with cadets during this fall’s Gunfighter Panel.

From left, U.S. Navy Capt. Douglas Beaver ’91, Virginia State Police Trooper Derek Stotler ’13, and U.S. Air Force Capt. Amanda (McGrath) Miller ’12
Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumni, from left, U.S. Navy Capt. Douglas Beaver ’91, Virginia State Police Trooper Derek Stotler ’13, and U.S. Air Force Capt. Amanda (McGrath) Miller ’12 talked with cadets during this fall’s Gunfighter Panel.

Leader Development column
By Elaine Humphrey, director, Maj. Gen. W. Thomas Rice Center for Leader Development

The word of the day in the Rice Center for Leader Development is “collaboration.” I continue to be very impressed and grateful for how much staff and cadets care about what we are doing. And they don’t just say so — they demonstrate it daily!

One example of this Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets-wide investment in the Rice Center is my collaboration with the deputy commandants and senior enlisted advisors to enhance the curriculum of our Corps Labs. Meetings started last spring and continue this semester to increase the rigor and relevancy of the content.

One new approach we are trying this semester is to have four of the Thursday classes designated as “battalion time.” Rather than having the cadets meet by academic level, the instructors are giving their battalions an opportunity to plan and execute class activities. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are practicing the leadership theories about which they are reading and learning. This format is designed to make the Corps Labs true leadership laboratories.

Cadet Judith Skinker, the regimental academics officer, and her staff have also significantly stepped up to the plate. In the summer article, I talked about the pilot program called F.A.S.T. (Freshmen Academic Success Teams). The focus is to facilitate new cadets’ academic success through weekly meetings in small groups led by sophomores. Freshmen report on their previous week’s accomplishments and challenges and make a plan for the upcoming week to properly prepare for their classes. Cadet Skinker led the recruitment and selection of the F.A.S.T. facilitators. She and her staff are maintaining a close eye on the meetings and giving me timely feedback so we can address any needs of freshmen or facilitators efficiently and effectively.

The third area of collaboration concerns the decision to conduct an extensive review of the leadership minor. Working with staff, cadets, the Pamplin College of Business, and the university registrar, I am preparing a proposal for a new minor that will apply to all cadets, regardless of commissioning status.

We have also kicked off a great semester of guest speakers in our Leaders in Action (LIA) series with our Gunfighters Panel on Sept. 15. Following that, on Oct. 6, both the producer and the director of “The Unknowns” met with cadets to share their newly released documentary about America’s shrine to our fallen heroes. Cadets heard about their experience as tomb soldiers and the journey to create this important work. Retired Lt. Col. Brad Lawing ’92, who also served as a tomb guard, joined them.

November will close out the series with our Medal of Honor commemoration featuring Gary Williams, the author of the book upon which the motion picture “Lone Survivor” is based. He will discuss the history of the Medal of Honor and highlight Virginia Tech’s recipients. The LIA is one more example of the meaningful collaborations empowering the Rice Center to serve our cadets.