After nearly 10 years in the same spot at Naval Base San Diego, the Naval Postgraduate School’s San Diego Distributed Programs Office (DPO) will be moving to a new location across base – the facility opened for classes and business as usual, July 5.
Each quarter, dozens of visitors and new students pass through the DPO office, some looking for guidance on their educational paths, others taking classes in one of the on-site Video Teleconference (VTC) enabled classrooms.
Regardless of the visitor’s purpose, however, the goal of the San Diego DPO office is the always the same … to facilitate classes and offer advice for students unable to attend the resident program at NPS’ primary campus in Monterey.
“As the hub of a growing U.S. and Navy presence in the Pacific, the Secretaries of Defense and Navy, as well as Navy leadership, point to San Diego as the most important fleet concentration area in the Navy,” explained retired Rear Adm. Steven Loeffler, Senior Lecturer and director of the university’s Regional Security Education Program (RSEP).
“From home-porting three of the Navy’s 11 aircraft carriers and many other ships, to the concentration of Marines at Camp Pendleton and Miramar; if the Navy and Marine Corps are here, NPS needs to be here too,” Loeffler said.
Current and potential students stationed in the greater San Diego community, or those just passing through, can find support, advice and more information on just about any educational offering throughout the Naval Postgraduate School. Office Director and retired Navy Capt. Craig Turley sees himself as a “grad school counselor” of sorts – his mission is to help interested officers and civilians find the right program and path that supports and fits their careers.
“We are here to support any military officer, government service employee, or DOD contractor that would be interested in either applying for a resident program on campus, or a distance learning (DL) program,” noted Turley, “whether it be a certificate, master’s degree program, or a Ph.D.
“I’m the person in San Diego that gives advice on graduate education opportunities. In order to provide counseling, I have to be aware of what’s offered at NPS, the Naval War College and the other universities in our local area, and also the career paths of the individuals,” he added. “I have to know the resident and distance learning opportunities that we have so that I can see where an individual is in his or her career, and see what program – resident or DL – would be the best fit for them.”
In terms of the move, Turley says he sees the new space as an opportunity for a fresh start in a new remodeled building, conveniently situated near the Navy College Office with additional Training Support Center classrooms to be used if needed. He credits a team effort in establishing the new facilities. “We could not accomplish the move without the superb IT and classroom design support provided by retired Capt. George Zolla, and the CED3 [NPS’ Center for Educational Design, Development and Distribution] and administrative support. It is a real team effort,” he noted.
Another member of Turley’s team is Executive Administrative Assistant Mabel Delatorre, who is responsible for keeping the San Diego Outreach Office running smoothly. In addition to supporting the senior staff, she is the ‘go-to-person’ for students needing technical support for on-site VTC courses. She sees the move as an opportunity to better serve NPS’ current and future students in the region.
The team also includes retired Rear Adm. Will Rodriguez, Director of Outreach for the West Coast. Rodriguez serves as the link between NPS, Navy Systems Commands and industry, fostering education and research opportunities that are invaluable to the NPS mission.
“Outreach is key to our NPS mission in that it is one of the tools in the NPS tool bag that helps foster a broader awareness of NPS and what the institution has to offer to the Navy and other federal agencies,” explained Rodriguez. “Outreach is also an element that helps NPS ‘speak with one voice’ when talking with our external customers.”
Another form of outreach comes by way of Loeffler’s well-established RSEP effort. As Director of the program, Loeffler coordinates frequent trips to the fleet to deliver customized education to Sailors and Marines across the ranks, with coursework specific to the regions they are deploying to.
“Between the graduate education and RSEP briefs I conduct aboard ships at sea, and the flag and general officers staffs and major commands I have briefed here in San Diego and around the Naval Services,” Loeffler said, “I think we are bringing a great deal of name and quality of faculty and programs recognition for NPS to the fleet.”
RSEP is just one of many ways the San Diego outreach office extends the value and reach of the Naval Postgraduate School education beyond its campus in Monterey, and beyond its traditional military officer student to include enlisted personnel as well. The San Diego DPO allows NPS to reach more potential students, and provide support for current students in both the resident and distance programs.
As Loeffler summarized, the importance of having a strong, local presence, and being flexible enough to reach out to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, wherever they may be to deliver their courses or degree programs, is critical the execution of the Naval Postgraduate School mission.
“From developing critical thinking skills to combating cyber security threats, the graduate education NPS provides in San Diego, Monterey – and other locations – will be crucial elements of preparing the Naval Services for 21st Century challenges,” he said. “I can only see our efforts here in San Diego increasing as we provide certificate and degree programs that help our service men and women achieve the graduate educations they desire, and the skills demanded by DOD leadership, and the nation.”