CWU’s instructional site at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) has been helping active-duty military personnel, veterans, reservists, and their family members pursue their higher education goals since it opened in September 2016.
CWU-JBLM, located on the US Army/Air Force base south of Tacoma, is the only on-base educational facility in the state connected with a Washington four-year public university. And while there is still room for growth, the site has managed to provide hundreds of servicemen and women with the resources they need to advance their careers.
“We help students with things like tuition assistance programs, questions about the GI Bill, and the My CAA program (a financial assistance program for military spouses),” said David Mulkey, the program manager at CWU-JBLM who works alongside Regional Director Judy Colburn and professor Carlo Smith. “We try to do everything we can to make the process easier for them.”
CWU-JBLM, housed in the Stone Education Center, serves about 20 students per academic quarter and offers two undergraduate degree programs—a BAS in supply chain management and a BA in business administration, specializing in supply chain management. The site also supports a Lean 6 Sigma certificate program in supply chain management.
In addition, military students and their family members can participate in all of the online-based classes offered at CWU, while the education center provides a variety of resources, such as a computer lab, and access to printers and other technology.
“We have a dedicated classroom and multiple listening sites, which allows us to hold virtual classes,” Mulkey said. “We offer at least one course every quarter, but our students also like that they can complete many of their other CWU classes online.”
Mulkey explained that most of the students at CWU-JBLM already have some higher education experience when they arrive on base. But even though many of them are self-sufficient, the military students often express how much they appreciate having someone to meet with in-person.
“When you’re taking classes online, it can be a challenge to get a hold of your advisor or someone else who can help,” Mulkey said. “People like that they always have someone to talk to here. It really helps to have that central point of contact.”
Mulkey and Colburn expect interest in the instructional site to grow, and they are conducting a needs survey this year to determine if other programs can be offered in the future. In the meantime, they will continue to support their military students and their families in any way they can.
“We hear a lot of positive things from our students,” Mulkey said. “We’re just doing our best to help, and they always tell us how much we are appreciated.”