The new Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies at the University of North Georgia (UNG), through collaboration with the university's academic affairs units, may result in new programs related to security and strategic studies. The institute will be a cross-disciplinary organizational structure to support coordination of academic, co-curricular, career placement, and leadership development programs related to UNG's Corps of Cadets.
"The concept of an institute to unify the diverse programmatic elements of our military leadership and students has been studied for the past two years and is being realized through collaboration among the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of Student Affairs, the College of Arts & Letters, and the Office of Executive Affairs," said UNG President Bonita Jacobs. "I applaud their work, and I am certain it will further strengthen the leadership development component of the UNG mission."
UNG is one of only six senior military colleges in the nation and is designated as a state leadership institution and as The Military College of Georgia.
The institute will be led by Dr. Billy Wells, vice president for executive affairs, who is also a retired Army colonel and a former professor of military science at the university. He will be supported by retired Lt. Col. Keith Antonia, who currently serves as executive director of undergraduate admissions and will assume a new role as associate vice president for military programs, effective Sept. 1. The institute will coordinate the efforts of the Office of the Commandant, the Department of Military Science and Cadet Admissions.
"Aligning these components of UNG's military program provides significant advantages to the Corps of Cadets, the military commissioning mission and the university as a whole," Wells said. "I see great potential to leverage the Corps of Cadets' legacy of excellence and UNG's international reputation to develop opportunities that will benefit all students and establish UNG as a program of choice for students pursuing careers as leaders in the U.S. Army, government and non-government agencies, and global corporations."
In announcing the institute, Jacobs said the heightened coordination made possible through the institute could result in opportunities that will benefit both cadets and civilian students, including:
- Research related to leadership, leadership development, and strategic studies;
- New external support to fund scholarships and university initiatives;
- Enhanced cadet recruitment and admission efforts;
- Increased internship opportunities and new career pathways for all students in federal service agencies and other government programs.
UNG's Army ROTC program benefits the university as a whole through the external funding it receives to support an array of language and international programs, as well as cadet scholarships. UNG offers instruction in 10 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Russian, which the military considers strategic languages. Also, UNG also has expanded international partnerships in recent years to offer opportunities for faculty, staff and students at institutions like the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the European Security and Defence College in Belgium, the NATO College in Rome, and the Baltic Defense College in Estonia.
The Corps of Cadets was more than 800 students strong in 2014-2015 and experienced one of its most successful years in history, including producing the number-one cadet in the nation and the highest percentage of Distinguished Military Graduates among the senior military colleges. Since its inception and UNG's founding in 1873, the Corps of Cadets has produced 50 generals, including the current head of the Georgia Army National Guard and the commander of the U.S. military forces in the fight against ISIS.