New national ROTC flagship liaison is based at North Georgia
5/9/2012 5:21:50 PM
(May 9, 2012) Lee Durham has been crisscrossing the country since
January to coordinate between three universities, including North Georgia
College & State University, in a pilot Chinese flagship program for cadets.
Durham is the first national ROTC flagship liaison, a federally funded position
created as part of a Department of Defense initiative stressing language and
culture expertise for U.S. military officers.
"The National Security Education Program's (NSEP) Language
Flagship program was started in 1991 to get more language and culture
capability into federal service, an area that was found to be lacking about the
time of Desert Storm," said Durham, who spent 30 years in the U.S. Army
and the Georgia National Guard. "Last year, the decision was made to move
flagship from being merely a civilian government focus to targeting ROTC cadets
-- a group of young, high-quality and well-educated students who are guaranteed
at least six years of service. And the vast majority of them tend to stay in
government service even if they don't remain in the military."
In fall 2011, North Georgia, Arizona State University and
Georgia Institute of Technology were the first three schools to be designated
pilot ROTC flagship universities and were awarded NSEP grants to instruct
cadets in Chinese. The models developed by the three universities will be used
to develop similar programs across the country.
|A North Georgia cadet writes sentences in Chinese during a recent class. North Georgia is one of three universities in the country taking part in a pilot program to create flagship language programs for cadets.
The mission of NSEP's Language Flagship program, to help
students gain high-level proficiency in strategic foreign languages and
culture, meshes well with North Georgia's strategic vision -- educating
students for life and leadership in a global community. Strategic languages
identified by NSEP are Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Persian, Russian,
and Swahili, four of which are taught at North Georgia.
Dr. Chris Jespersen, dean of the School of Arts and Letters,
said Durham arrived ready for the work ahead.
"Lee's work is invaluable in two areas: first, he's
going to communicate with ROTC students about the program and the great
opportunity a flagship program presents to those who are dedicated and
committed to achieving an exceptionally high level of proficiency in Chinese
language; and second, Lee is in charge of coordinating with the other flagship
institutions, both ROTC and civilian, to ensure that North Georgia's program is
well-known and in step with what the others are doing," Jespersen said.
Durham is based at North Georgia, but he'll be coordinating
between the three armed services and all three schools. Each university faces
its own challenges in developing ROTC flagship programs in Chinese.
"Every school has positives, but all three also have
challenges they have to overcome," Durham said. "The challenge for
North Georgia is learning how to establish a flagship. The goal is to have
students not only taking language courses, but also taking their core classes
in a foreign language. That's a big requirement for a university, especially
one the size of North Georgia, to have Chinese professors teaching history,
math and science."
Georgia Tech faces a similar challenge as a new flagship
school, but also has to find a way for engineering and science students who
already have a heavy course load to succeed in difficult languages like Chinese
and Arabic, Durham said. Though Arizona State has had a Chinese flagship
program since 2007, the challenge lies in expanding that program to cadets
while addressing the particular needs of military learners.
Though his role currently doesn't include teaching or
training duties, Durham has plenty of experience in both. During his military
career, Durham led several schools, including the Antigua Barbuda Commando
School in the West Indies, the Battle Command Training Center at Fort
Leavenworth, Kan., and the Warrior Training Center at Fort Benning, Ga. While
deployed to Afghanistan, Durham commanded 4,800-person task force responsible
for more than 40 Afghan Army training teams and 51 police training teams.
Durham also was a Special Forces officer and commanded the
Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from 2007-10.
Durham has three advanced degrees in addition to his
bachelor's degree -- a law degree, a master's degree in international relations
and a master's in national security strategy. Durham has served as an assistant
county attorney in Kansas and was in private legal practice.
Durham and wife Daina have a son, Carson, a rising sophomore
at North Georgia, and a daughter, Alexis.