The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) signed an agreement with several community partners June 23 that is designed to better prepare local business students for contracting work at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), located at Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
St. Mary’s County Public Schools, University of Maryland University College and NAVAIR will be working with CSM to tailor business education to ensure that local business students are trained and ready for NAVAIR internships and jobs.
“It’s all about workforce development,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried. “These are people who want to live in Southern Maryland. This is where their ties are. This agreement provides a pathway that will have a tangible impact on Southern Maryland.”
Because of the agreement, students starting out in the St. Mary’s County Public Schools Academy of Finance, located at Chopticon High School in Morganza, will have an educational pathway they can follow that will take them from Chopticon to CSM to UMUC. Upon graduation, they will have earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration or management with a minor in contract management and acquisition, and they will be uniquely trained for NAVAIR’s needs. The agreement also assures the efficient transfer of students between colleges, including transfer of credit, admissions and financial aid and scholarships.
Many in the community are aware of Pax River’s continuing need for engineers, said NAVAIR SES 2.0 James Meade. However, the base has another, less well-known staffing deficit. “We have a tremendous need for great business people. We want to bring more local folks on board.” He noted that NAVAIR at Pax River is an acquisition command and his office handles $35 billion in contracts annually, a task that requires plenty of savvy business people.
“It’s a natural fit,” said Superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools Scott Smith. Smith said the school system’s goal is for all its graduates to be college- or career-ready, and the newly established pathway provides that for St. Mary’s County students. In addition, the relationship among the three educational institutions and NAVAIR provides an excellent academic program for business students and all at a cost much lower than spending all four years at a university located outside the region, Smith said.
“I am thrilled,” said Cindy Baden, lead teacher for the St. Mary’s County Schools’ Academy of Finance at Chopticon. “It’s really going to be a great selling point.” Baden noted that the academy already has a relationship with Patuxent River Naval Air Station, with her students visiting the base on field trips and the school hosting guest speakers from the base. This agreement strengthens that relationship, she said.
“It is a pathway business career program designed to address a NAVAIR need and puts the students in a position to be eligible for employment,” said CSM Director of the Nonprofit Institute Barbara Ives, who helped create the agreement.
UMUC President Javier Miyares noted that CSM works closely with UMUC in many similar agreements and the partnership works well. “Our students ultimately want a job at the end of the journey,” Miyares said. “This is a program that can help them achieve their goal. It’s also a program that can be a model for the nation.”
Miyares also commended the planned pathway for the business students because it allows them to earn their associate degree during the process. If anything in life happens that keeps them from completing their bachelor’s degree immediately, CSM graduates will have that associate degree, which puts them a step ahead of those without, he said.
For information on business and technology degree programs at CSM, visit www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/credit/academic-divisions/bat/. For photos from the signing, visit http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/contractpathway.