DAHLGREN, Va. –
Hundreds of employees gathered virtually Oct. 29 with family, friends and Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) leadership to recognize the significant academic achievements among Dahlgren’s workforce over the preceding two years. Although the Academic Recognition Ceremony is typically an annual event, the pandemic deferred festivities in 2020. The ceremony specifically highlights the wide range of academic coursework, certifications, and degrees completed by NSWCDD employees through the command’s Academic Development Program, which provides generous funding as a part of Dahlgren’s commitment to investing in its strongest asset: its people. Program participants hailed from every department at NSWCDD and illustrated areas of interest ranging from computer science to project management and accounting, among others. A number of academic achievements completed outside of the official process were also highlighted during the event. In total, some 357 employees were recognized for their academic achievements over the past two years.
In his opening remarks, NSWCDD Commanding Officer Capt. Stephen ‘Casey’ Plew recognized the group’s voluntary pursuit of “long hours in class, through evenings and weekends” while balancing their normal job responsibilities to the United States Navy. “Every part of our organization has an important role to play in providing support to the warfighter,” Plew added, noting that “professional development and academic achievement are critical to that support.” NSWCDD Acting Deputy Technical Director, Chris Clifford, described the academic program as a cornerstone of Dahlgren’s philosophy of continual self-improvement. Clifford encouraged the virtual audience to “continue learning, continue to read, master your trade and be a mentor.”
The academic program falls under an annual $4 million United States government investment in workforce development at NSWCDD, which funds a variety of tuition payment programs, fellowships, leadership programs, training and mentoring opportunities. In addition to highlighting the recent accomplishments of program participants, Academic Programs Manager Pam Maynard hoped to draw in other employees who may have not previously participated. “These educational benefits are there for everybody,” Maynard explained ahead of Friday’s event. “We like to get the word out about the opportunity.” According to Maynard, tuition payments alone account for some $1.5 million annually invested in Dahlgren’s workforce. The academic program pays upfront for all tuition and mandatory fees associated with approved coursework. The benefit is available to all eligible employees, from new-hires to department heads. Employees complete the academic work outside of normal business hours and must maintain strong grade point averages to qualify.
The benefit is valued in the tens of thousands of dollars on an individual employee level. “This program is a bit larger than our counterpart organizations,” Maynard observed, “because we invest in people who want to invest in themselves.” In return, starting in January 2022, employees will have a professional commitment at Dahlgren that typically ranges from 12 to 36 months, depending on various individual factors. “It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Maynard. “Employees are investing in their own academic development and can apply their knowledge to benefit our day-to-day operations supporting the Navy and Department of Defense.”