/ / / Strategic Supporter

Strategic Supporter

The outgoing president of CCME reflects on his year and the future of voluntary education.
Franc Lopez
Council of College and Military Educators

Francisco “Franc” C. Lopez is currently the Higher Education Resource Center – DegreeQuest Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Military Programs. In this position, he liaises with all branches of the Active, Guard/Reserve, and Veteran communities.   


Franc retired from active duty as a Sergeant Major, United States Army.  His last active duty assignment was the Special Enlisted Advisor to the Director, Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES). 


Since retiring from the Army, he has held positions as the Deputy Director of Military Affairs for the Army National Guard Institute, Associate Director for Business Development, Northcentral University, Military Liaison and Director for Military Outreach, Columbia Southern University, Board Member for the Northwest Florida Community Veterans Engagement Board, and previous Vice President and currently the President for the Council of College and Military Educators.  


Born in the territory of Hawaii, he is a graduate of Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, Alaska.  He received his Associates of Science - Business Administration from Monmouth College, a Bachelor of Science - Workforce Education and Development from Southern Illinois University, and a Master of Business Administration – Human Resources Management from Northcentral University.

Q: What has CCME’s role been in supporting military education?

A: CCME is guided by its mission, “CCME is an active proponent for the professional development of those serving in the military education community by providing a forum for the exchange of information on educational programs, strategies and innovation among its members and associated partners.” The forum we speak of is our annual Professional Development Symposium.

Previously, the CCME Symposium was in concert with the now suspended DOD Worldwide Education Symposium. Moving forward we have become the premiere DOD VOLED event of the year where professionals that facilitate  and manage their programs come to and seek professional development, discuss issues and concerns, learn of innovative within higher education and become aware of what the corporate world are providing in the way of educational products and services.

Our value is directed towards the “whole” family of our military, active, guard/reserve, retired, Veterans, family members, federal service employees, civilian workforce, DOD and DHS. This forum is key to maintaining the communication between all involved. A major purpose of CCME is to promote and support quality education that impact on the off-duty voluntary postsecondary education programs of our military community.  

Q: Describe CCME’s role in veterans’ education.

A: This is an evolving and expanding role for CCME. We realize that our Veteran communities have grown over the years and know that their educational needs are unique and in ways similar with their civilian counterparts. Bringing together academia and the leadership from the Veteran support channels has been on the “scope” of CCME, more so today.

An assessment of the upcoming Symposium agenda, you will find our Keynote speakers that are Veterans, numerous concurrent session topics centered on Veteran educational needs, and roundtable discussions designed to identify solutions or additional needs of our Veterans.

In the years to come for CCME, I see an ever expanding role that CCME will take on with the Veteran communities. With our Veterans, timeliness is critical to their educational success as they view education as a key component to securing their next employment evolution and realizing financial stability for themselves and their families.

Q: How does CCME support the needs of servicemembers leaving for civilian life?

A: Realizing that education is a key to their success, we have brought entities from the corporate world that are designing programs, programs such as Veterans in Piping, preparing our servicemembers before leaving active duty, into CCME.

To assist with issues such as in state tuition rates and transferability of credits, our partnering with the National Association of Institutions for Military Education Services (NAIMES) and the Advisory Councils on Military Education (ACMEs) and their role in impacting legislative decisions nationally and within their states/regions to the benefit of Veterans within their communities are critical and the sharing of their (NAIMES and ACME) success happens at the CCME Symposium.

Academically, institutional members, through attending the Symposium, identify the needs of the servicemembers and build and/or modify academic programs that fit their needs.

Q: What is the theme of the 2017 CCME Symposium?

A: Each year, the newly elected President has the pleasure of defining the focus for the next Symposium. Once defined, the Board discusses possible themes that are in line to the agreed upon focus. For the 2017 Symposium, the theme, “Collaboration: Strengthen Ourselves for those that we serve” was voted on and approved. To be in line with our mission, collaboration, communication, between all entities of the CCME membership is critical to the success of CCME, and the Symposium provides us the opportunity to strengthen ourselves with professional development sessions offered throughout to the betterment of those that we serve, our military communities.

The annual Symposium brings back an art of communication that is quickly becoming lost, the face-to-face interaction, the hand shake, the reading of body language, and the simple nod of affirmation. You can’t get this in an email, twitter, or text. Social media can only bring us together halfway. Social interaction completes the communication thread and the Symposium does that for our membership.

Q: How is the Symposium and Agenda defined?

A: Building the agenda is a huge challenge. There are so much our membership would like to see in the agenda and not having a limitless time to do all, we have to be vigilant in vetting and scrutinizing what goes into the agenda. Planning for the agenda begins immediately after the Symposium, as a matter of fact, the Friday after the Symposium!

The new CCME Board meets to discuss lessons learned, assessing the active feedback submitted from attendees during the sessions, what should or should not be on the next agenda, and a Board member by Board member individual report and assessment. Throughout the calendar year preceding the next Symposium, monthly Board meetings are held to discuss CCME administrative action items, agenda issues and Committee Chairs present updates as to their progress.

Twice, in the summer and fall, the full Board meets on site at the next Symposium hotel to execute a face to face planning session with the Hotel staff and invite possible Vendor presentations of interest. Local meetings with the Mayor’s office, Veteran organizations, possible Corporate Sponsors and Chambers of Commerce are coordinated and executed. Building the agenda is a very dynamic and proactive process.     

Q: What’s on the agenda for the Symposium?

A: The most updated Symposium information and agenda can be found on the “2017 CCME Professional Development Symposium” app powered by Guidebook! To get the free app go to: or do a search in the Apple Store or Google Play Store on your smart phone for “2017 ccme.”

To kick off the week, there are pre-Symposium meetings being held on Monday, March 6, 20917. Meetings such as the Advisory Councils on Military Education (ACME), DOD and DHS Services, SOC, DANTES, ACE, NCPACE, and capping the day with the grand opening of the Exhibit Hall.

Opening day, March 7, 2017 finds us with a welcome from the Atlanta Mayor’s office, Veteran Keynotes, a business meeting, OSD update, a luncheon with an Awards and Scholarships presentation, updates from the Army University and Veterans Affairs, and a panel discussion from invited institutional Presidents.

March 8, 2017 is dedicated to the well over 60+ concurrent sessions, and a special presentation from OSD on the new Institutional Compliance Program. Roundtable discussions and panel presentations from the DOD/DHS Education Service Chiefs and Senior Enlisted on March 9, 2017 leads us to the closing of the Symposium. At the end of the Symposium, members find themselves truly exhausted and wanting more.

Q: Are there any special events going on?

A: The Exhibit Hall will be operational and open to all attendees throughout the day. Breaks will be held in the Exhibit Hall to afford more time for collaborating between the Vendors and attendees. Although having a “Fun Run” during past Symposium’s was a hit with attendees, in Atlanta it was not only cost prohibitive but safety issues was a major factor in not doing one. To replace the event, we are doing a “FitBit” challenge. The specifics of the challenge is forthcoming.

We will be having an “Aloha Day” for Wednesday. Designed and modified around the typical Hawaiian “Aloha Friday”, Aloha Day will allow attendees the opportunity to go business casual and dress in their most favorite Aloha attire. Since Wednesday is a full day of concurrent sessions, having a “business casual” atmosphere should allow maximum motivation for attendees to engage in sharing views during the sessions.

Finally, a favorite year after year, is the CCME Networking Reception being held the evening after the concurrent sessions. This is the time members seek out session presenters to continue the conversations they had earlier in the day. Old business contacts are solidified and new relationships are formed. There is an old saying that you get more business done outside of the board rooms is so true, and the networking reception confirms that philosophy.    

Q: How do you see the future for CCME and VOLED given the recent presidential election and all the changes that come along with a new administration?

A: Optimistic, bright and growing. As CCME evolves into the New Year so must we increase our mission towards helping our Veterans realize their educational goals. We must also embrace more so our corporate partners that provide innovative and out of the box educational products and services. Long gone are the Number “2” pencils and mark sense forms.

Important to the continued success of CCME is maintaining the relationship with our DOD/DHS partners. With a new Republican Presidential administration, and the same party majority in both the House and Senate, VOLED change is definitely being discussed at the most highest levels. Topics such as how to increase the servicemember graduation rates, should federal tuition assistance funding be factored into the 90/10 rule, a clearer common consistent base access policy across all installations, a clearer definition of what is “aggressive marketing”, strengthening or loosening the academic decision making powers of the servicemember, … What may be the results of those discussions? Who knows, but CCME stands ready to provide the forum that allows discussions and collaborations that will help form decisions and policies through the networking of the CCME membership. 

I hope to see all of you at the Symposium in Atlanta. Come prepared to share your thoughts and ideas. Without you there, we will miss the opportunity to hear what you have to say. The CCME Symposium generates change, in our thinking, in our perceived perceptions, what we thought was factual or not, change for the future of VOLED for the benefit of our servicemembers. In closing, I am again reminded of a saying, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein. Aloha Nui Loa!

Additional Info

  • Issue: 12
  • Volume: 1
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