On Friday, the Air Force Academy held a ceremony to break ground on its Center for Character and Leadership Development. We wrote about the academy's honor code in April, including research conducted by Frederick Malmstrom, a graduate and former visiting professor. The cover package included a story about the new center.
Malmstrom volunteered to write about the center, which is likely to be quite busy with all the honor violations at the academy in the last couple of years, including cadets caught cheating and doing drugs. Here's his piece:
Air Force Academy’s New Character Center. The Honor System Faces Formidable Challenges.
by Frederick V. Malmstrom
Initial groundbreaking for the Air Force Academy’s new building for the Center for Character and Leadership Development began at 10:00 a.m., October 19, 2012 on the Court of Honor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Over 300 persons attended this event, including visiting dignitaries from the Academy’s Board of Visitors, faculty dean Brig. General Dana Born, several retired Academy superintendents, representatives from Boeing and Lockheed, and architects from the world-famous firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.
The current Academy Superintendent, Lt. General Mike Gould, stated during his address to the dignitaries that character development, especially honor, will be critical to the future path of this country.
Much of the structure will sit below present ground level, but the Center will be accessible to visitors along with its distinctive illuminated 105 foot tall tilting glass pyramid pointing towards the North Star, its direction intended as a symbol of a moral compass.
The entire new relocated Center is expected to be in full operation by September 2014. The Independent first reported in April 2012, the cost was projected to be $39.5 million dollars — $27.5 million in taxpayer funds with $12 million remainder of the total as private donations. Since then the cost estimate has risen to almost $44 million.
In 1994, the Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD) was created to address and consolidate the administration and tasks of teaching, researching, and enforcing the Academy’s primary mission to graduate leaders of character.
Currently, CCLD is organized into four separate divisions employing about 25 total staff. Two divisions are devoted to public affairs, primarily hosting national events and promoting inspirational lectures and seminars. The first two divisions account for well over half the Center’s manpower and budget. The third division, Scholarship, is tasked with research on character.
The fourth, The Honor Division, the enforcement arm of the Center, has the historical task of investigating and hearing and determining alleged cadet honor violations — specifically cadets who lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.
The Center will face a formidable challenge in countering the past half-century steady rise in admitted honor violations by graduates of all service academies. As reported previously in the April 11-17, 2012 Independent, over 2/3 of the sampled USAFA graduates from classes of 2007-2010 had admitted to having violated the honor code, and about 30% of those graduates admitted having tolerated dishonesty by classmates but did not consider toleration an honor violation.
Dr. Frederick Malmstrom is a graduate of the Class of 1964 and a former visiting scholar for honor.