FORT STEWART — Starting this fall, Fort Stewart soldiers and family members can pursue master’s degrees literally at their front door.
Fort Stewart garrison commander Col. Manny Ramirez and Georgia Southern University president Dr. Kyle Marrero signed a memorandum of agreement Monday morning, enabling GSU to provide six graduate-level programs at Fort Stewart’s Paul R. Smith Education Center.
Programs available will be master’s degrees in business administration, health administration, information technology, and professional communication and leadership, along with graduate certificates in cybercrime and professional communication and leadership.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Col. Manny Ramirez.
Monday’s signing ceremony ended a push on Fort Stewart’s part that had lasted more than two years, Col. Ramirez said.
“We’ve always believed in investing in our most precious asset, which is our people, and today this partnership is a shining testament to that belief,” he said. “We’re opening doors to advanced education, professional development and a brighter future for all of our soldiers and their family members.”
The classes, which will be held at the Smith Education Center, will begin August 14 with the start of GSU’s fall semester. The programs will be at 25% capacity while the accreditation process is underway, and Dr. Marrero expects all six to be delivered on-site fully next year.
“For us, this is a beginning and a continuation to the future and legacy in the belief in the transformational power of education,” he said.
It also took work on Georgia Southern’s part to come up with eight-week programs with no prerequisites and that also included some hybrid learning.
“We put that curriculum together in three weeks,” Dr. Marrero said.
Dr. Carl Reiber, the Georgia Southern provost and vice president of academic affairs, also said students affiliated with the military are often more disciplined in their approach to academics. A self-declared Army brat — his father was an infantry officer and served with the 1st Infantry Division — Dr. Reiber said he brings a personal perspective to the effort.
“This is an easy partnership,” he said, because military and military-affiliated personnel do well. They come in well organized. This is an easy program to stand up because we know the students are going to be successful.”
The agreement also adds a third college to the Smith Education Center. Col. Ramirez said the partnership will allow soldiers to continue to excel in their military roles and allows them to hone their skills through academic pursuits, without leaving the installation.
“We’re building a comprehensive support structure that nurtures the dreams and aspirations of all our soldiers and their family members,” he said.