Seven Soldiers Earn a Graduate Degree During December Commencement Ceremonies

Online Master’s Program Tailored to Meet the Strategic Communication Needs of the U.S. Army

Columbia, Mo. (Dec, 21, 2011) — Seven U.S. Army officers participating in an innovative partnership between the Missouri School of Journalism and the Command General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., graduated with master of arts degrees during December commencement ceremonies.

The school’s online master’s program was tailored to allow the soldiers to complete their degrees in only 10 months. The U.S. Army designated the soldiers as CGSC Intermediate Level Education (ILE) Strategic Communication Scholars.

The CGSC educates leaders in the armed forces and sought a partner who could prepare officers for its communication challenges. CGSC selected the Missouri journalism program based on its established strategic communication program, the quality of its faculty, high research productivity and long-standing record of preparing communication executives for management-level positions.

U.S. Army officers stand with Missouri School of Journalism professors after December graduation ceremonies. (From left) Associate Dean Esther Thorson, C. Victor Herbin III, Andrew Kim, Joseph Cranfield II, John R. Reynolds, G. Joseph Harrison, director of the online master’s program Margaret Duffy.

All of the officers specialized in the strategic communication program model. Thesis topics included how strategic communication can be used in efforts to prevent genocide and mass atrocities, a qualitative inquiry into Freedom of Information Act and media coverage of religious institutions in the midst of scandal. Others focused on communication strategies for mitigating biological weapons of mass destruction attacks and officers’ career paths.

In addition, the officers completed the standard ILE requirements while in residency at Fort Leavenworth. This course of study focused on problems of genocide, mass atrocities, weapons of mass destruction, bioterrorism, and how the Army may better position itself to prevent and counteract these types of events around the world.

“The Missouri School of Journalism is proud to be part of soldiers’ education,” said Esther Thorson, the school’s associate dean for graduate studies. “Our online master’s program has the same rigorous standards as our on-campus graduate program and allows students to complete their degrees from almost anywhere in the world.”

One of the graduates, a physician with an interest in public health, will soon be deployed to South Korea as a Second Infantry Division surgeon.

“Our patients tend to be population groups rather than individuals,” said Andrew Kim. “My degree will be invaluable in communicating and effecting healthy behaviors with 15,000 young U.S. Army troops stationed in Korea.”

C. Victor Herbin III said the program enhanced his leadership, writing, critical thinking and interpersonal skills in preparation for higher levels of responsibility within the Army.

“I can say without hesitation that this was one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences I have had in my 14-year Army career,” he said.

Given the success of this first accelerated online master’s program, CGSC and the school will explore the possibility of a follow-up class, according to Margaret Duffy, the director of the online master’s program and chair of the strategic communication faculty. Herbin would endorse the idea.

“I would highly recommend this academic opportunity for any future ILE students who desire a unique educational experience,” he said.

Updated: June 4, 2020

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