KU, Fort Leavenworth pact paying off
Entities have traded ideas, resources; learned from each other
Courtesy Tom Throne/Leavenworth Times
International officers place the flags of their countries around Fort Leavenworth's Abrams Loop in August during a ceremony to mark the beginning of an academic year at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. KU has signed a memorandum of understanding with the fort to exchange ideas and resources.
Just over a year ago, officials from KU signed a memorandum of understanding with Fort Leavenworth, a U.S. Army base about 40 miles northeast of Lawrence. The agreement is already paying dividends for both institutions.
Barbara Romzek, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Paul D'Anieri, associate dean of CLAS and liaison to the fort, say KU has learned invaluable lessons from the personnel at Fort Leavenworth that can be passed on to faculty and students, and in turn have helped contribute an academic point of view and resources to the fort.
Last year, Col. Kevin Benson, one of the architects of the Iraq invasion, gave a lecture at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics. He discussed how the plans were made, what challenges were encountered and what mistakes were made.
"We could have spent hours and hours and thousands of dollars in speaker's fees to get someone like this to come to KU," D'Anieri said. "And he was right there. All we had to do was ask."
The joint executive steering committee will hold its first meeting in December to decide which direction the relationship will take in the future. The committee consists of David Shulenburger, provost and executive vice chancellor; Romzek; and Jim Roberts, KU Center for Research president, all from KU; and Brig. Gen. Volney J. Warner, deputy commandant of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; Brig. Gen. John Woods, deputy commanding general of the Combined Arms Center; and Col. Mike Davis, chief of staff of the Combined Arms Center, all from the fort.
Romzek said the main question is "what should our joint efforts between the two institutions be?"
about KU and Fort Leavenworth's partnership, contact Associate Dean Paul D'Anieri in the dean's office of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at email@example.com.
"It was about how the Army carries itself to people in other countries," Romzek said.
The Army's goal is to communicate with and understand cultures with which it comes in contact. KU's pool of professionals helps educate them on various cultures, customs and their global locations.
Jerry Dobson, professor of geography, has worked with fort officials to show how knowledge of geography can be combined with knowledge of an area's cultural demographics. The military thinks this is important for more effective operations.
"He's been working with the Foreign Military Studies Office," Romzek said of Dobson. "They want to be able to map social dynamics with physical dynamics. The military is very aware this is a problem. They've figured out what they need and they're going after it. Fortunately, we're close enough to help."
The two entities have discussed how academic theory compares to real-life experiences as well. In the discussions, KU personnel can share the academic viewpoint on a variety of topics, while the Army can share its actual experiences. The benefit is KU brings an academic viewpoint that Army personnel might not normally get, and the Army in turn can tell the university if the theory is true from their experiences. Faculty can then take that back to their classes, and share it with students.
"It's theory testing," Romzek said. "That, for the faculty members, is a great insight."
One of the long-term goals of the partnership is to expand the educational exchange to faculty of the fort's Command and General Staff College. Benson is exemplifying that goal as a doctoral student in the Department of History.
The relationship has spread beyond the academic fields one might associate with the Army. D'Anieri said the schools of journalism and engineering, and the departments of religion, psychology, theater and film and many others have been involved.
"It covers things across the board," D'Anieri said. "Some of it's in culture, some of it's in anthropology, or a number of other areas."
The partnership has also helped build acquaintances between the two organizations that go beyond individuals who know each other.
"We're trying to get past individual connections to establish enduring institutional linkages," Romzek said. "I think we're making progress there."