For more than four decades, K-State has offered courses and degree programs to soldiers stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Currently on-post master’s and doctoral degrees are offered in adult education, history and security studies.
“Our history spans from offering cooperative degree programs, to fulfilling professional development needs of faculty teaching at the Command and General Staff College, to providing research fellows for the Army Research Institute, among other things,” said Cheryl Polson, director of K-State-Ft. Leavenworth graduate programs and outreach.
As the collaboration has evolved, the main focus of meeting military education needs has not. For many students, the partnership is the first opportunity they have had to gain a high quality educational experience while fully meeting all job requirements. Classes are typically offered in the afternoon or evening one or two days a week to accommodate the schedules of working individuals.
“From the army’s perspective, the Command and General Staff College is the priority. That’s why you are assigned here,” said Lt. Col. Matt McKinley, who received his master’s in adult education. “When you pursue a graduate degree, that’s on your own time with your own resources.”
But for many soldiers, the extra time and effort is worth it.
“It has changed my life profoundly,” said McKinley, “and it was the most valuable educational experience I’ve had.”
For McKinley, the program confirmed that he wanted to be an educator and influenced his assignments while in the Army. Instead of staying in the operational force, he opted to become a professor of military science at a college so he could teach and develop others. McKinley plans to continue teaching after retirement.
Other alumni of the programs include three active duty Army generals and numerous brigade and battalion commanders, as well as other military-connected learners. In total, more than 700 students have graduated with master’s degrees in adult education alone through the K-State-Ft. Leavenworth partnership.
Despite the geographical distance between the Manhattan campus and Ft. Leavenworth, it is not unusual for students to become part of the K-State family.
“I know I’ve felt a part of the K-State family right away,” said McKinley. “We are K-State and I think the students have a lot of pride in being Wildcats.”