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Collaboration & Celebration

Highlights of the 2017 Council of College and Military Educators Symposium.

By Dr. Jeff Cropsey

The 2017 Council of College of Military Educators (CCME) was an outstanding success! By any measure, the CCME symposiums continue to grow and serve as the annual conference to obtain the latest information on the world of military and veteran education. This year, more than 940 individuals registered for the conference, representing a growth of over 5 percent from last year. There were 526 attendees who identified as coming from an institution. 214 different institutions were in attendance, with 85 institutions indicating this was their first time attending. The trend seems to be increasing on institution participation. More schools, and even smaller schools that are not well known in military and veteran programs are attending each year. Attendance from the military sector is also increasing, with well over 300 military participants this year. The annual CCME symposium is now firmly established as THE conference to attend for military and veteran education programs!

The theme of the 2017 symposium was “Collaboration: Strengthen Ourselves For Those We Serve.” Honoring this theme were five days of meetings, presentations, discussion groups and networking opportunities to give true meaning to the word “collaboration.” Several important general sessions discussed issues in military education with noted speakers from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. There were incredible motivational speakers that left everyone in attendance with a renewed spirit of service to our military and veteran students.

Professional development was not forgotten, with more than 70 concurrent sessions providing insights and updates on a myriad of military and veteran education issues.

Additionally, six major roundtable discussions were conducted, allowing the individual participants to directly voice their concerns on a variety of military and veteran education topics. If you are new to the world of military education and needing to learn the basics, or you are experienced and wanting to further hone your skills, the annual CCME symposium should be a must-attend on your training calendar.

So what happened during those five days in Atlanta?

The symposium began on Monday, March 6 with special meetings all day. Thirteen state Associations of College and Military Educators (ACMEs) met throughout the day to discuss state and regional issues affecting military and veteran education. If you are interested in joining an ACME in your state, go to the CCME website ( for more information. Besides the state ACMEs, several of the branches of the Armed Services conducted training sessions for their personnel. The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) also conducted a training session for the Degree Network System schools. The entire symposium came together that evening for the President’s Reception and the Grand Opening of the Exhibit Hall.

More than 70 exhibitors supported the 2017 symposium and attendees showed great interest in what the exhibitors had to offer.

On Tuesday March 7, the 2017 symposium opened with the Newcomer’s Breakfast. Each the CCME sponsors a breakfast for those attending for the first time. Besides good food and networking, CCME Board members sit with the first timers to explain what CCME is and the purpose of the symposium. This year approximately 250 individuals attended the Newcomer’s Breakfast, indicating the strong appeal CCME continues to have as it attracts new members.

Following the breakfast the symposium formally opened with the presentation of the colors by the Atlanta Police Department Honor Guard, a truly spectacular and inspiring rendition of our National Anthem by Tiffany and Jessica Neal, and a warm welcoming address from Daniel Gordon, Chief Operating Officer of the Mayor for the City of Atlanta. Next came a series of inspiring keynote addresses. Jared Lyon, President and CEO of Student Veterans of America spoke on the importance of educational programs and support systems for our veteran students. Next came an inspiring moment for all in attendance thanks to Bryan Anderson, an Iraq war veteran, author, and national spokesman for Quantum Rehab. Anderson happens to be a triple amputee, and he gave an inspiring and sometimes humorous account of how he dealt with his challenges. By the end of his presentation, the audience was left with a healthy dose of perspective. Bryan Anderson reminded everyone that nearly any challenges we might have as individuals can be overcome in a positive way.

After a break, the general sessions continued with Dawn Bilodeau, Chief, Voluntary Education Programs, Department of Defense. She provided an update on military programs and issues and Major General John Kem gave a briefing on the current status of the Army University program. After the morning general sessions concluded, the annual CCME Awards and Scholarship Luncheon and ACME update took place. A total of 20 scholarships were awarded this year to deserving military, veteran and dependent students.

The following CCME Awards were given out:

* CCME Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. John Ebersole, Excelsior College

* CCME President’s Award: Dr. Kathryn Snead, Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges

* Barry Cobb Government Organization Award: Eglin Air Force Base Education Center

* CCME Corporate Award:

* CCME Institution Award: Colorado Technical University

* William E. Kennedy Award: Pamela Washington, Park University

* John Brian Service and Leadership Award: Peter Harris & John Lejeune, Education Center, MCCS Lejeune-New River

* CCME ACME Award: Virginia ACME

The luncheon concluded with a state of the ACMES report by Michael Midura, CCME ACME Liaison.

After lunch the general sessions continued. The afternoon began with the President’s Panel. This year Dr. Cheryl Hayek of Grantham University, Dr. George Pruitt from Thomas Edison State University, Mr. Javier Miyares of the University of Maryland University College, and Dr. Beth Stroble of Webster University represented the higher education community. They discussed numerous topics including what the new administration might mean for higher education.

The Presidents Panel discussed the November 29, 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee meeting ( In that 2016 meeting, the Office of the Secretary of Defense was summoned to respond to criticisms that they had overstepped their authority in the management of the DoD MoU process and that, in the words of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, their attempts to evaluate the quality of education programs were not “in the wheelhouse of DoD.” The school presidents did not condemn DoD but expressed concerns that over-regulation may be occurring. Regarding base access issues for academic institutions, the presidents were generally in support of current DoD policies. Regarding on-campus VA students, they also expressed the hope that BHA rates would be the same for their resident and online students.

After the President’s Panel the annual CCME business meeting was held, along with the election for vacant positions. The results were:

* President-Elect: Janine Wert, University of Massachusetts-Lowell

* Vice President-Elect: Janice Neal, Webster University

* Secretary-Elect: Shad Satterwaite, University of Oklahoma

The final general session of the day was an address by the Honorable Curtis Coy, Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity, Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Coy discussed the progress of the VA in helping vets obtain training and employment in their post-service lives.

Wednesday, March 8 was both fun and instructive. The fun part was that in honor of Franc Lopez, this year’s CCME President and a native Hawaiian, many of the attendees dressed casually by wearing “Aloha” shirts. It was a great break from an Atlanta winter’s day. The instructive part was the possibility of attending more than 70 concurrent sessions on military and veteran education subjects. The highlight of the afternoon was the presentation by Dr. Jonathan Woods, DoD Voluntary Education Chief, regarding the new DoD Voluntary Education Institutional Compliance Program. There was maximum attendance and interest in this presentation and all that attended appreciated the detailed discussion of the new 3rd Party compliance program. The day concluded with a wonderful networking

reception for all attendees. New friends were made and old aquaintnences renewed. A wonderful conclusion to a great day!

Thursday March 9th was the last full day of the 2017 CCME symposium and what a day it was! The day began with the Senior Enlisted Panel representing those that we serve each day. The panel was very supportive of the efforts of the many schools in attendance and each panelist shared their personal education stories. It was great affirmation of all that we do each day to help servicemembers achieve their educational goals. Next came a selection from six major roundtable discussions, where the participants got to speak out on a variety of education issues. The afternoon continued with the Voluntary Education Service Chiefs Panel. Here the attendees heard recent developments in the Service’s voluntary education programs. The presentations ended with an inspirational address by Col. (ret) Greg Boyle who reminded us all of the importance of what we do and to always do our best.

Throughout the symposium, thanks to Joycelyn Groot of Coastline Community College and her great team, we had our first CCME Step Forward Challenge. This challenge was for teams and individuals to have the most steps as measured by a Fit Bit, pedometer or phone app during the conference. Each participant contributed $20, which went to the CCME Scholarship Endowment Fund. There were 87 participants that “stepped” a total of 1,066.62 miles and raised $1325 for the fund! SUNY Empire State was the first place team winner and Miyako Schanley was the individual winner. A full list of the rest of the team and individual winners is listed on the CCME app and website. Congratulations to all!

Our current President Franc Lopez and our incoming President Lane Huber spoke the last words for the 2017 CCME symposium. Franc thanked all for their support of CCME and participation in the 2017 symposium. Lane Huber thanked Franc for his leadership and challenged us all to do our best in supporting our military and veteran students. Finally, Lane invited us all to attend the 2018 CCME Symposium in San Diego, on March 26-29, 2018. Start planning now… don’t miss it!

Dr. Jeff Cropsey is Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Government Relations at Grantham University, and Immediate Past President of CCME.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 19:53

Additional Info

  • Issue: 12
  • Volume: 2
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