By Tammie Adams
Marketing and Media Writer-Editor
In April 2008, the Air Force Academy Superintendent signed the first-ever Cadet Wing Diversity Plan, an action plan that identifies the Academy’s recruiting objectives and diversity recruiting initiatives.
Since then, the Academy Admissions staff has developed and implemented many new initiatives toward diversity recruiting.
Already in place to aid Air Force Academy applicants through the application process are Admissions Liaison Officers, or ALOs, who are primarily active-duty, Reserve and retired Air Force officers responsible for different geographic sections throughout the world. Approximately 1,600 ALOs are under the leadership of the director of admissions, with 86 who specialize in diversity, called Diversity Affairs Coordinators.
“The mission of the ALO force is to inform potential candidates about the Academy, guide students through the intensive Academy application process, and interview and mentor them along the way,” said Col. Chevalier Cleaves, Director of Admissions.
One of the most important strategies was the creation of the Diversity Advisory Panel, a senior board-level panel of nine members who advise the director of admissions on diversity issues.
Subsequently, under the direction of the Diversity Advisory Panel, Air Force Academy Admissions hosted the first-ever Diversity Affairs Coordinators Conference at Doolittle Hall July 20 to 23.
“We want the DACs to become experts and propagate knowledge to the rest of the ALO force on diversity issues,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Lum, Admissions Diversity Recruiting Division Chief.
The conference attendees totaled 69, to include 64 ALOs and five special guests.
The main goals of the conference were to express to DACs the superintendent’s intent regarding diversity; establish a baseline of knowledge on diversity issues and initiatives at the Academy; gain feedback from the DAC force with respect to diversity; and to provide the best practices when it comes to recruiting for diversity.
Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould addressed the conference members and expressed his thoughts on diversity by saying, “I have learned that a diverse organization brings more brain power, initiative and ingenuity to almost any problem than when everybody comes from a similar background.”
When diversity is addressed at the Academy, it encompasses much more than race, ethnicity and gender. According to the June 2009 USAFA Diversity Plan, diversity is defined as “a composite of individual characteristics that includes personal life experiences, geographic background, socio-
economic background, cultural knowledge, educational background, work background, language abilities, physical abilities, philosophical/spiritual perspectives, age, race, ethnicity and gender.”
“Diversity strengthens the ability of our graduates to more effectively lead an increasingly diverse Air Force and an increasingly global expeditionary Air Force into the future,” said Lt. Col. Bill Shelton, Diversity Advisory Panel Chair. “Our graduates must be prepared to understand and work with people of differing cultures and perspectives. The notable lack of a diverse officer corps threatens our ability to most effectively and efficiently lead our Air Force in service to our nation.”
Colonel Lum began the conference by explaining the mission and initiatives of the Diversity Recruiting Division. Some of the other main topics covered during the conference included candidate interview techniques, the importance of coordinating with diversity recruiting lieutenants, how to approach the current generation of candidates, whole person development, identifying quality candidates, the population shift in the United States and the selections process.
Guest speakers included Dr. James Johnson Jr., Distinguished Professor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Geoff Cohen, Professor from the Stanford University School of Education; and Dr. Dean Chavers, Director of Catching the Dream.
“We thought the conference was a huge success, and we appreciate the access to senior leadership,” Colonel Shelton said. “Going forward, we anticipate some fine tuning for the next conference and will incorporate the feedback we received from the attendees. We were very happy to meet so many motivated DACs.”