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iSchool joins forces with U.S. Army to educate tomorrow's leaders

November 05, 2009

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

Equipping a soldier during World War II cost approximately $170. Today, that cost is approximately $26,000 per soldier, thanks to an increasing number of IT-related tools, according to Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Foley, commanding officer of U.S. Army Signal Center (SIGCEN) at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga.

Equipping soldiers with the latest technologies also means educating them on how to effectively use these technologies. To that end, the U.S. Army SIGCEN School of Information Technology has established a formal agreement with the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) to educate U.S. Army officers on how to use and manage new information and communications technologies through two master’s degree programs at the iSchool.

On Oct. 30, Foley and officials from Fort Gordon participated in a daylong visit to the iSchool that culminated in a formal signing ceremony to announce the agreement.

“Today, we can look at history and vision coming together,” says Syracuse University Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina. “Historically, Syracuse University really has been a place that has been military-friendly. The vision is really of scholarship in action—of doing something very well and having an impact on the world while you achieve that excellence. We are really proud of this arrangement. Chancellor Nancy Cantor and I extend our thanks to both parties for coming together and finding a way that will ultimately benefit the country.”

The U.S. Army’s Fort Gordon School of Information Technology offers 120 courses, has educated 14,000 students from more than 30 countries and is home to the largest Microsoft and Cisco Networking academies in the free world. The iSchool, ranked No. 1 in information systems by U.S. News & World Report, is an internationally recognized leader in the education of information professionals.

“The event has shown us the tremendous benefits of a joint education from the U.S. Army Signal Center School of Information Technology and the SU School of Information Studies,” says iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy. “Today was a great day of discovery, and we see many more opportunities. We see this as an increasingly rich and extensive relationship between Syracuse University and the U.S. Army Signal Center School of Information Technology at Fort Gordon.”

The agreement enables soldiers who have completed FA53 Information Systems Managers and/or the FA24 Telecommunications Engineers at SIGCEN to transfer 9-15 credits toward an M.S. in information management or M.S. in telecommunications and network management at the iSchool. The agreement also allows active soldiers—many of whom may be deployed overseas—to complete the master’s degree requirements through online courses. Retired army officers will also be able to take advantage of this opportunity and may enroll in the campus or the online programs. (For more information, visit http://ischool.syr.edu/signalcenter)

U.S. Army Maj. Jonathan Hughes, a Signal Center officer who is enrolled in the iSchool’s campus-based M.S. in information management program through the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling program, described how his Syracuse experience rounded out his education as an information professional and soldier.

“It’s very exciting to see that through this agreement between the United States Army and the iSchool that the iSchool’s virtual learning program is going to extend the same educational benefits that I’ve received on campus to so many of my peers who are serving in all corners of the globe,” Hughes says. “I can honestly say that my time here at Syracuse has expanded my skill sets and has made me a more proficient information management professional. I’m looking forward to taking those skills back to the Army with me.”

Gen. Foley points out that the relationship between the U.S. Army Signal Center at Fort Gordon and SU was destined for greatness, as both share the color orange. “Every branch of the Army has a color,” he explains. “The infantry is blue, the artillery is red and the signal corps is orange.”

He pointed out that both organizations also share a similar mission. “At Fort Gordon, we’re most proud of our professional development of leaders, and we’re certainly interested in helping our officers pursue a world-class education.

“I can feel the passion in this university and in this campus,” he said. “I can feel the patriotism in this university and in this campus. We wouldn’t be where we are today and you all would not be this world-class academic institution if you genuinely didn’t care about what it is that you do. There’s a long history of Syracuse support to those who serve in our nation. We’re just continuing that today.”

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