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NEWS | Sept. 30, 2021

NSWCPD Employees Complete Navy-Sponsored Graduate Degrees

By Richard Locklear

In May 2021, an eight-person cohort from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) completed their Master’s Degree in Public Affairs through a special academic program offered by Indiana University and Purdue University-Indianapolis. The program lasted just over two years and featured coursework critical to understanding and leading public organizations. Topics included leadership in public organizations, program evaluation, dispute resolution, administrative law and global governance.

Similar to the strategy in the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) “Campaign Plan to Expand the Advantage 3.0”, the cohort program was conceived because NSWCPD leadership recognized a need for developing leadership competence with a focus on managing the future in an increasingly competitive and demanding work environment.

“NSWCPD benefits from this curriculum as it’s specifically built around how to manage government organizations,” said NSWCPD’s Lead Academic Training Specialist Alicia D’Orazio. “Students receive lectures from members of congress, DoD and public organization CEOs, and learn how to run a public organization at the highest level.”

“The program helped me expand my network within our organization and helped me understand why certain things are the way they are,” said NSWCPD’s In-Service Subs Platform Manager Kevin Glover, and a member of the cohort who recently graduated. “Without having the coursework and reason to dig into some of these policies that affect our lives on a daily basis, it can be difficult to understand the inner workings and reasons for various policy decisions. I’ve also become much more aware of my communication styles and what I need to work on to succeed in my career and be a better leader. I definitely have a greater appreciation for the responsibility of making and implementing policy decisions that may not necessarily be very popular.”

The compressed format course of study featured one intensive 40-hour week of class every six to eight weeks, with time allotted before and after for course reading, final projects and papers. Being an official command-sponsored course of study, the cohort attended classes one-at-a-time during working hours. This particular cohort attended class in person until COVID-19-related health conditions forced a transition to a Zoom-based virtual format.

While COVID-19 did introduce some challenges to the cohort and its efforts to complete the program, the students remained resilient and adaptable throughout.

“I think our cohort handled the virtual aspect of having class over Zoom really well. We had already spent six classes together, so we were already pretty close and understood each other’s communication styles,” said Glover. “Being a smaller group helped with that as well, so there wasn’t a whole lot of talking over each other that might be more problematic with a larger group.”

“Like everything else, there have been advantages and disadvantages to the changes the COVID-19 crisis caused,” added another cohort member, NSWCPD’s Acting Branch Manager for Marine Technology Research and Development Jamer Doughty. “Participating from home gave us some schedule flexibility, and allowed us to be closer to our families; but that also introduced pet interruptions, internet conductivity issues, and the all-too-familiar, ‘Hey, I think you’re still on mute’.”

Despite these challenges, the benefits to NSWCPD and cohort members alike is undeniable.

“Professionally, the program definitely helped me change my mindset from that of a technically-based, problem-solving naval engineer, to that of a more worldly and interconnected management mindset,” said Doughty. “The policy and management challenges that NSWCPD faces are the same challenges that local governments and worldwide organizations face, and they are difficult challenges to solve because there are so many interrelated issues.”

The eight graduating members of the cohort include:

Jamer Doughty
Brooke Edwards
Kevin Glover
Cincearae Kelly
Mike Pessagno
Crystal Roach
Alicia Sasso
BJ Wyatt