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The Power of Collaboration

A preview of the issues and opportunities at the 2017 CCME Symposium.

By Dr. Jeffrey P. Cropsey

The 2017 annual symposium of the Council of College and Military Educators (CCME) will be held March 6-9 at the Atlanta Marriot Marquis Hotel in Atlanta, Ga. The theme this year is, Collaboration: Strengthen Ourselves For Those We Serve.  It is anticipated that close to a thousand individuals will attend the conference participating in discussions on military and veteran education issues, listening to dynamic and informative speakers, learning and enhancing skills and of course having great networking opportunities with colleagues from across the military and veteran education community.  2016 was a year of great political change and the 2017 CCME Symposium will be your first chance to hear what changes may be in the future for the military and veteran education programs. If you are interested in military and veteran education issues and initiatives this is THE conference to attend in 2017!

There will be many important and exciting opportunities for attendees throughout the conference.  Beginning on Monday 6 March, the Armed Services will be holding training sessions for their personnel. Also the State level Associations of Military Educators known by their acronym of ACME will meet to discuss issues of particular State or regional interest. 6 March will also have workshops from the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) and the American Council of Education (ACE). A great networking opportunity will occur from 5PM to 10PM during a Social Hour, the CCME President’s Reception and the Grand Opening of the Exhibit Hall. Right now we are anticipating nearly 200 exhibitors providing products and services in support of military and veteran education. This will be a fantastic time to meet the many attendees and chat in a relaxed social setting with many of the main speakers throughout the conference. By the end of Monday you should be ready for an exciting conference for the next three days!

Tuesday 7 March, starts off early with a continental breakfast for all and a special Newcomer’s Orientation and Breakfast for those of you that are attending CCME for the first time. This is more than just a networking breakfast.  Speakers will provide information on CCME, the Services and answer questions on military and veteran related acronyms and dare I say jargon. For those of you new to military and veteran education and new to CCME you should make sure you attend the Newcomers Breakfast. At 8 AM the Symposium begins with a welcome from the Atlanta Mayor’s Office, presentation of the colors and the singing of the national anthem. This will be followed by keynote addresses by Jared Lyon, CEO of Student Veterans of America and Bryan Anderson, Iraqi war veteran and author. At 9:45 AM CCME will conduct its annual membership business meeting. Here is a chance for you to vote on changes to our by-laws and for several new CCME Board positions. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard on the actions and future of our organization. Following the CCME business meeting we will receive an update on Department of Defense (DoD) education policy and plans from Dawn Bilodeau, OSD, Director of Voluntary Education. This is a presentation not to miss as we change administrations after 8 years it may be that new approaches to military education are being considered.  Lunch is included on Tuesday and it is the annual CCME Awards and Scholarship Luncheon.  Many deserving individuals working in military and veteran education will be recognized along with several outstanding students of CCME member institutions who will be awarded scholarship grants. Also during lunch there will be an update on the activities and initiatives of the state ACMEs.  Following lunch we will have the Presidents Panel. Each year CCME invites presidents from a variety of institutions to provide their insights regarding military and veteran education. This year we are honored to have the presidents of Webster University, Thomas Edison State College and the University of Maryland University College.  I know as always this group of distinguished educators will bring important issues in military and veteran education to the audience. The day ends with presentations by the President of the Army University Brigadier General John Kem and by Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Undersecretary for Economic Opportunity Curtis L. Coy. Here is a chance to learn more about the Army University mission and plans from BG. Kem, while hearing about employment and training for veterans from Deputy Undersecretary Coy.

Wednesday 8 March will be filled with spectacular opportunities to enhance your skills and get the latest updates on a wide variety of issues in military and veterans education programs. Also Wednesday is a business casual day with a suggestion to go Hawaiian and wear an aloha shirt if you of course have one, now who doesn’t?. Hey Hawaii in Georgia in March…why the heck not? You can wear your flower print shirts to over 80 concurrent sessions of your choosing during the day. Lunch is on your own that day, but you’ll find many great choices of restaurants at the hotel and over the air bridge across the street at the food court in Peachtree Center. Also while you’re listening to all your favorite Don Ho songs on your iPod you can attend a late afternoon general session with OSD Voluntary Education Chief Dawn Bilodeau.  MS Bilodeau will be discussing the status of the DoD Voluntary Education Institutional Compliance Program. The day ends with another great networking reception from 5PM to 7:30PM.

The main symposium concludes on Thursday 9 March. In many ways this day will be an example of “the best for last”. After the continental breakfast from 7-7:45 at 8AM we will have the Armed Forces Senior Enlisted Panel. We expect to have the top enlisted members of each of the five services. This will be an opportunity for you to hear directly from the enlisted force top leadership regarding the needs for post secondary education in the military and for transitioning veterans.  After this panel there will be six Round table discussions on some of the truly burning issues facing military and veteran education as follows: Automated Tools Impact (the Army VIA system) – One Year Later; Impact of Limited Education Support and Resources Available Aboard Naval Bases; The National Association of Institutions for Military Education Services (NAIMES) – Opportunities and Challenges; National Guard and Reserve Education Chiefs Panel; Student Veterans of America – Updates and New Programs; and Transitioning Military and Veteran Career Employment – Preparation Seminars and Corporate Programs.  Additionally if you want to do some homework before you attend you might like to view the video of the 29 November 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Department of Defense Actions Concerning Voluntary Education Programs. You can review the questions the committee raised and the testimony from DoD representatives at:

Many of the issues raised in this hearing will be of interest to schools providing education programs to the military and veterans.  The day concludes with perhaps the event that many of you have been waiting for all week. The Education Services Chiefs of each of the Armed Services will provide updates and answer questions regarding their Service programs. Here is another great opportunity for you to hear first hand what the issues, challenges and plans are for the Armed Forces education programs in the future.  The day will end with an outstanding motivational speaker to send you home ready to hit the ground running to fulfill the 2017 Council of College and Military Educators Symposium theme, Collaboration: Strengthen Ourselves For Those We Serve”. 

On behalf of the CCME Officers and Board I want to thank you all for attending the 2017 Symposium. During the days you are at the Symposium I hope you learn a lot to enhance your service to our military and veteran students.  Additionally in these changing political times I expect you will take back to your institution a better understanding of the issues and opportunities that face higher education in military and veteran education programs. Finally I do hope you expanded your professional and personal networks of colleagues you can commiserate with in the future. It truly takes a village to provide world-class education to our nations military and veterans. My hope is that you’ve increased the size of your village by attending the 2017 CCME Symposium.

Certainly hope to see you all again in 2018 at the CCME Symposium 26-29 March at the San Diego Marriott Marquis Marina Hotel in San Diego, California!


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

Additional Info

  • Issue: 12
  • Volume: 1
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