AF Academy’s 118 new instructors start teaching cadets Aug. 8

  • Published
  • By Janine Dreger
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy added 118 new instructors to its faculty roster this month to replace professors and instructors who have moved on or retired.  

Col. Troy Harting, the Academy’s vice dean, said there is nothing unusual about this number for a service academy. Most instructors at the Academy are active duty service members who receive orders to a new assignment within 2-4 years after arriving at the school, he said.

“While our turnover is a little higher than what you would see at a civilian university as our military instructors complete their assignments, new faces add a dynamism that cadets feel in the classroom,” he said.  

Marc Napolitano is the Academy’s director of faculty development.

“I shape and orient the newcomer’s briefings to meet the needs of the incoming faculty,” he said.

Napolitano said any perception of a dip or rise in the teacher-to-student ratio at the school is less important than actually giving cadets what they need to succeed academically.

“It’s less about the numbers than it is creating a faculty that fits the needs of cadets,” he said.

While most of the new instructors made the academic roster, some are assigned to the Academy’s athletic department, its preparatory school and the Center for Character and Leadership Development.

“A lot of the new faculty members will teach chemistry and there’s also been an increase in the faculty at the management department,” Napolitano said.

Regardless of where they’ll teach, Napolitano said instructors are guided by the Academy’s nine institutional outcomes: critical thinking, clear communication, engineering, principles of science, ethos and respect, human conditions, national security, warrior ethos and leadership.

“Teaching at the Academy doesn’t mean just checking boxes at exams,” he said. “We affect young men and women on their journey of lifelong learning. Creating a meaningful teaching and learning experience is essential at the Academy.”

All staff attend a newcomer’s orientation, but this year’s event took the form of an academic conference to better meet the needs of each new faculty member.

 “You could say that we want to meet our new faculty’s individual needs in the same way we want our faculty to meet the individual needs of our cadets,” Napolitano said. “We’ve tried to really build orientation around the idea that creating meaningful learning for cadets is essential.”

The July 8-12 orientation was tailored to accommodate the various experiences of the instructors. All but 28 are service members.  

“Some [service members] are returning to the Academy, some are replacing instructors who are on sabbatical,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano is assigned to the Academy’s Center for Educational Innovation which promotes, models, supports and celebrates an evidence-based educational excellence through inspiration, integration, and innovation, according to the organization’s mission statement.

“The center is so important,” Harting said. “Their programs accelerate the learning need to turn our instructors into professional educators as quickly as possible.”