Character Corner: Why CCLD?

Brig. Gen. Samuel Cox and Col. John Norton unveil the Center for Character and Leadership Development's logo Sept. 28, 2009, at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. General Cox is commandant of cadets at the Academy, and Colonel Norton is the CCLD director. Also pictured are retired Col. Tom Berry, deputy CCLD director; Lt. Col. Joe Sanders, assistant director for scholarship, and Lt. Col. Jim DeReus, assistant director for integration. The logo was designed by Chris Hureau of DenMar Services Inc. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rachel Boettcher)

Brig. Gen. Samuel Cox and Col. John Norton unveil the Center for Character and Leadership Development's logo Sept. 28, 2009, at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. General Cox is commandant of cadets at the Academy, and Colonel Norton is the CCLD director. Also pictured are retired Col. Tom Berry, deputy CCLD director; Lt. Col. Joe Sanders, assistant director for scholarship, and Lt. Col. Jim DeReus, assistant director for integration. The logo was designed by Chris Hureau of DenMar Services Inc. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rachel Boettcher)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Thursday, the Center for Character Development became the Center for Character and Leadership Development. This change is more than skin deep -- the new center has new capabilities, new focus areas, a new mindset, and eventually a new building. These are all designed to help all at USAFA become more effective at our fundamental mission -- developing young adults into leaders of character. 

This transformation started in late 2007, when a team assembled to look at how to transform what was a good organization into a great organization. The center was focused on great programs put on by great practitioners, but it takes more than these to become a great center. 

To reach our full potential, we must fully understand what is most effective in officer development, have sound theoretical foundations for what we do, and be well integrated with the rest of USAFA's curriculum. The superintendent approved a transformation plan last May and we have now completed a one-year transition period and stood up the CCLD. 

We will soon add two key leadership positions, the permanent professor of character and leadership development and a civilian senior scholar in residence. Additional military and civilian positions with specific expertise will also be added, and CCLD will achieve full operational capability by 2012. 

Three primary initiatives make up this transformation: 

-- Adding the capacity for meaningful research, assessment, and analysis, because no process can be improved unless it is well understood. CCLD will undertake research and assessment solely to learn what works best in officer development. 

-- Since most character and leadership development takes place in routine, daily interactions, it is critical these daily events are complementary, synchronized, and developmental. CCLD plays a role insuring this by equipping the faculty and staff and helping to integrate cross-mission element curriculum. 

-- Leadership and character are related, interdependent concepts -- there is clearly synergy in developing them together in the same programs. CCLD has already begun integrating leadership development into our programs: an example is the new third class ROPES seminar. 

Another critical part of this transformation is a change in mindset. The center's focus on great standalone programs has been replaced by a focus on how those programs fit into the larger cadet experience. Of all the CCLD's focus areas, integration has perhaps the highest impact on cadet's development because it leverages all of the countless daily interactions in cadets' lives into meaningful developmental experiences. 

We are also working on a new building for the CCLD for both practical and symbolic reasons. A distinctive CCLD facility will make a statement, both internally and externally, about USAFA's commitment to character and leadership development as the indispensable foundation of officer development. The CCLD building, located just south of Arnold Hall, will break ground in early 2011 and be completed by summer of 2012. 

The cadets, faculty and staff of USAFA will continue to enjoy world-class center programs, but CCLD will offer much more -- integrated curriculum, increased understanding of officer development and a focus on helping us all become more effective in our daily efforts to develop leaders of character. 

Tune into KAFA 97.7 FM for Character Matters every Wednesday at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Also on iTunes or www.usafa.org.