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NEWS | Feb. 4, 2020

NSWC Dahlgren Division and University of Mary Washington Leaders Say MOU will Impact Community, Fleet, and Nation

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

KING GEORGE, Va. – Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) and the University of Mary Washington (UMW) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at a ceremony held at the UMW Dahlgren campus, Jan. 31.

NSWCDD and UMW leaders – speaking at the ceremony about their vision of the MOU – envision it will significantly advance professional education in the field of management for the NSWCDD workforce.

“We are delighted about this opportunity and hold it up as a shining example of the partnerships we are pursuing,” said Darren Barnes, NSWCDD acting technical director, while speaking about the value of the partnership to the command’s workforce and its ultimate impact on the warfighter and the nation’s defense. “It would not be possible without the University of Mary Washington.”

The MOU enables NSWCDD employees who qualify for the program to earn a project management certificate while applying the credits towards a Master of Business Administration. 

“We are excited at the University of Mary Washington about this partnership and program,” said Dr. Troy Paino, University of Mary Washington president. “This program really aligns with our mission and vision moving forward. Partnerships matter and we’re here as a bridge to serve our community, our commonwealth, country, and the mission at Dahlgren.”

As the audience applauded, Paino and Dr. Nina Mikhalevsky, the university’s provost, signed the MOU with NSWCDD leadership – Capt. Casey Plew, NSWCDD commanding officer, and Barnes.

The ceremony’s audience – comprising mostly NSWCDD military and civilian leaders and employees as well as University of Mary Washington leaders and staff – included local officials who share in the excitement about the vision that has become reality. 

“The campus and naval facility serve as the commercial epicenter of our community,” said Dr. Neiman Young, King George County administrator. “Whatever is good for the University of Mary Washington and the Naval Surface Warfare Center is, naturally, great for King George County. We are pleased to hear that the MOU will allow the Dahlgren campus to provide more robust programs to NSWC Dahlgren Division employees – many of whom are King George County citizens. We too support the warfighter and look forward to more collaboration with our regional partners to meet that mission.”

The program is designed for NSWCDD employees to attend classes at the university’s Dahlgren campus at times that are favorable to their work-life balance. The spring 2020 cohort of students started in January 2020 with 20 NSWCDD employees engaged in business classes. 

“I absolutely believe that we have bright people in this program who are going to be our future leaders at Dahlgren,” Chris Clifford, NSWCDD business director, told the audience. “Dahlgren has placed significant emphasis on advanced degrees. We have existing programs in place for graduate studies in engineering to include many technical avenues in system engineering. This program fills a critical gap in our business track in terms of an advanced degree for our business employees, so I really think this program is going to be very applicable to our folks working in contracting, financial management, and business operations across the base.”

The project management certificate taught at the university’s Dahlgren campus will be a 12-month program. By design, the certificate program will consist of courses that are part of the University of Mary Washington Master of Business Administration curriculum. Students completing the certificate program will receive 15 credit hours that can be applied towards an MBA.  

The opportunity for the command’s business professionals aligns with the NSWCDD 2020-2025 Strategic Plan which emphasizes workforce development as one of Dahlgren’s strategic goals.

“As a high performance research and development organization we must ensure employees have the right skills to execute the mission,” said Clifford, adding that, “we will continuously identify and build these critical skills and prepare our leaders for tomorrow.”

Moreover, the MOU aligns with the Department of the Navy’s (DoN) new civilian human capital strategy released in January.

To position the Navy for success, the strategy is built around five key workforce and leadership strategic anchors. With phased implementation between now and 2030, these strategic anchors represent a transformational shift in toward workforce innovation.

Clifford read Anchors 2 and 4, pointing out that the NSWCDD-University of Mary Washington MOU reflects the DoN strategy.

Anchor 2: Develop Skills for the Future - Identify, assess, and acquire the skills that the DON needs to be best equipped to do the work of the future.


Anchor 4: Strengthen the Bench of Future Talent - Embed talent development, such as next-generation learning and leadership programs, to enable a succession planning process and build a robust pipeline of the best future leaders.

“In the strategy,” Clifford told the audience, “it also talks about teaming with academia and expanding our partnerships so this UMW project management certificate and MBA program and the partnership between our two organizations directly ties to the Department of the Navy human capital strategy – and that’s a big deal.”

The MOU qualifies the appropriate MBA courses for Defense Acquisition University credits in order to contribute to employees’ DAWIA (Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act) acquisition profession certifications. What’s more, the Graduate Record Examination and Graduate Management Admission Test requirements are waived for all NSWCDD employees who have an accredited bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years of professional experience. 

“You can’t really find a place more supportive of encouraging its workforce to pursue higher education,” said Barnes. “Moving forward, our commanding officer and leadership will continue to strengthen NSWC Dahlgren’s partnerships with Navy labs, industry, and academia.”