Why I Strive for Excellence: Curt Harig

Curt Harig
Certified Higher Education Professional (CHEP) in Teaching
Joint Special Operations University — MacDill Air Force Base, Florida

How many years of experience do you have in higher education?
I have six years of experience in higher education.

How did you begin your career in higher education?
My career in higher education began when I had the opportunity to teach at the Joint Special Operations University. After completing a career in special operations, the chance to teach newcomers in my field of expertise (carrying out U.S. national security objectives in conjunction with interagency partners) seemed like a great fit. I soon began teaching special operations forces (SOF) and interagency personnel the importance of collaboration to achieve mission success, and am now the course director in the department of undergraduate studies, college of special operations. This was also the impetus for me to complete my doctor of education in educational leadership and management studies.

What part of your job brings you the most personal satisfaction?
The most satisfying part of my job is when I see young SOF professionals applying the knowledge they’ve acquired during the blended course I direct, during classroom interaction and through discussion postings online. The satisfaction is carried through the students’ end-of-course critiques where they make comments such as, “This course will help me when I work with the U.S. Embassy in an upcoming deployment,” and “I wish I would have received this education much earlier in my career!”

What advice do you have for fellow educators in the career college sector of higher education?
Never become complacent with existing course curricula. The world is ever changing, and the change in environment means one must have the ability to not only adapt to the changing environment, but also apply critical-thinking skills to achieve organizational objectives. Update learning outcomes and assessments as needed to ensure the material you present in your program is the most current and relevant to the industry. Continually research new areas and incorporate new processes into curricula that challenge the students’ critical-thinking skills.

Why are professional development and continuing education important to you?
I am a lifelong adult learner and have a strong desire to be the best in my field of study. Learning new teaching and classroom management skills ensures my teaching skills are well-honed. I do not think you can teach students new to a field of study if you are not as knowledgeable as possible in that field yourself. In my case, attending courses at the Foreign Service Institute and the NATO School reinforces knowledge I already possess and broadens my perspective in areas related to my field of study.

What is one thing you think career education leaders can do to improve institutional performance?
Career education leaders can improve performance by looking at their institution as a transformational organization. It is extremely important that every member of the institution understand and commit to its goals, vision and mission. Feedback from outside observers, students and organizational staff continually shapes the application of the mission and vision. It is important for all faculty and staff to understand how changes to existing programs continually shape the leaders of tomorrow, and how the institution’s vision shapes management of the educational process.

The CHEP certification is awarded by the National Association of State Administrators and Supervisors of Private Schools (NASASPS), an association of state regulatory agencies that govern private postsecondary education in the U.S. The CHEP certification recognizes employees of career schools, colleges and universities who strive for excellence in their respective positions with the ultimate goal of enabling institutions to develop high-performing, compliant and ethical employees to better serve students. CHEPs have successfully completed 48 hours of approved training in their area of concentration and are required to complete eight hours of approved training annually to maintain their certification. Visit www.nasasps-certified.org to learn more about the CHEP certification.

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