June 12, 2012/LSSU News
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The number of U.S. Coast Guard personnel taking classes at Lake Superior State University has increased substantially in recent years thanks to an LSSU/USCG agreement that was re-established on June 12.
The memorandum of understanding between the two groups, which sets the rate for LSSU tuition the same as the Coast Guard Tuition Assistance Program for Coast Guard members and families, was first signed three years ago by LSSU President Tony McLain and former Sector Commander Capt. Mark Huebschman. Since then, nearly 60 Coast Guard students have taken more than 170 courses in various areas of study. The agreement was recently extended by McLain and Sector Sault Commander Capt. Joseph McGuiness.
"This has been a great community-building agreement that has blossomed into more than what we envisioned," said McLain.
Sector Sault Educational Support Officer Brian Streichert said he believes the numbers are impressive.
"We had one person attending LSSU from the Sector before the agreement was signed. Afterwards, we had six enroll in the first course and since then, the average class size is between 11-14 students. There has been a continual increase of spouses and dependents enrolling through LSSU due to the Coast Guard tuition rate, and so far, the Coast Guard has paid more than $113,000 in tuition assistance to LSSU."
Meanwhile, LSSU has also provided faculty for on-base courses, which has increased USCG enrollment even more, Streichert said.
"We are already into our 13th on-base course and are finalizing two more for the fall. These courses are primarily general education courses, so our Coast Guard members can work toward earning an associate's degree prior to leaving Sector Sault," he said.
"Without a school willing to bend a little and a president sticking his neck out some, this could never have happened," said Capt. McGuiness. "Sector Sault is very appreciative for this agreement and looks forward to its longevity for the benefit of those stationed at Sector Sault and for LSSU."
Streichert commended McLain and Paige Gordier, dean of the LSSU College of Arts, Letters and Social Sciences, for organizing the courses and cited Capt. McGuiness' "relentless pursuit of morale improvement and seeing that the Coast Guard workforce continues its education in order to improve critical thinking skills" in allowing the agreement to flourish.
The partnership is a natural fit for two organizations that have long had a cornerstone presence in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Sector Sault's wide geographical area — all of Lake Superior and the northern parts of Lakes Michigan and Huron — means that personnel could also take advantage of LSSU's branch campuses in Escanaba, Gaylord, and Petoskey.
Coast Guardsmen who are interested in the USCG-LSSU program should contact ESO Brian Streichert at 906-635-3355 or Brian.DE.Streichert@uscg.mil. For more on educational opportunities at Lake State, contact the Admissions Office at 906-635-2231, firstname.lastname@example.org.