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BOV meets at Polaris Hall
The United States Air Force Academy’s Board of Visitors met in open session Wednesday, May 1.
The independent board meets on at least a quarterly basis to review the morale, discipline, curriculum, instruction, research, physical equipment, sexual violence prevention, fiscal affairs and other matters at USAFA. The board reports and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Defense through the Secretary of the Air Force.
Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria ’85, USAFA superintendent, kicked off the morning session with a few updates.
Silveria reported to the BOV that Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin ’93 was removed as commandant of cadets and that Col. Scott Campbell ’95, vice commandant of cadets, is now serving as the acting commandant.
“I want to assure the board that the actions that I took were taken only with the interest of the cadets in mind and the permanent party in the Cadet Wing,” Lt. Gen. Silveria said. “This was not about me and it was not about Gen. Goodwin. This was about cadets and the permanent party.”
An investigation into the matter is currently being conducted by the Secretary of the Air Force inspector general, he reported.
“As you know, senior officers are investigated by SAF IG, they are not investigated locally,” he said. “So that investigation will be ongoing. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any details about that investigation. We do have to respect that process, and we also have to respect the dignity and the privacy of Gen. Goodwin and her family.”
Lt. Gen. Silveria said Col. Campbell will perform the duties of acting commandant over the next month.
“He’s well versed in all the issues, and I have every confidence that he’ll be able to take the wing through the month of May,” he added.
The next commandant, Brig Gen. Michele Edmondson, will be assuming her new role at the end of this month.
“I have every faith in her as an officer and as a commander,” Lt. Gen. Silveria said. “I’m excited about her leadership at the Academy, for the institution and for the cadets.”
Going forward, Lt. Gen. Silveria pledged to continue to provide support to Brig. Gen. Goodwin as the investigation proceeds and comes to a conclusion.
“All of us would expect that we will take care of Gen. Goodwin like we will take care of any airman — with respect and support — as we work with any member of our family and any member of the Long Blue Line,” Silveria said.
Other superintendent updates:
USAFA switched on its new IT network May 1.
“This is probably the most significant infrastructure update that the Air Force Academy has seen in decades,” Lt. Gen. Silveria offered. “Cadets absolutely love it.”
The network is much faster now — 10 GB per second versus 1 GB per second previously. In the summer, an addition 10 GB per second of bandwidth will be added to the network, he reported.
“We need this to deliver 21st century education,” he said. “We have to continue to invest, and we have to continue to focus on our IT infrastructure to deliver that high-speed capability to the faculty and to the cadets.”
The new network also benefits visitors to the Academy, Lt. Gen. Silveria added.
“For the first time … you will be able to bring your own device and join the network,” he reported. “Nobody else in the Air Force has done this.”
Cadets have been migrated to Office 365, which will eventually provide an email inbox for cadets and graduates to stay better connected for years to come.
Roughly 21 percent of the officers in the Air Force are women, Lt. Gen. Silveria reported. About 27 percent of the Cadet Wing at USAFA is made up of women.
Additionally, 7 percent of pilots in the Air Force are women, with two-thirds of the women in pilot training being USAFA graduates.
“Our women are leading the United States Air Force in the rated force,” he said.
There were a record number of female applicants for the incoming Class of 2023, he added.
The Class of 2019 has landed 520 pilot slots. “The highest number in nine years,” Lt. Gen. Silveria said.
A total of 47 graduates will head to remotely piloted aircraft; 32 space operators; and 55 cyber operators.
Col. Scott Campbell provided an update for the Commandant’s office.
He noted that about 4 percent of the Cadet Wing is presently in the discipline or honor code system.
“So the majority of our cadets are doing the right things,” Col. Campbell said.
One area of concern, he said, is an uptick in underage drinking violations. Officials are working to address that concern.
Lt. Gen. Silveria recently produced a video that every USAFA applicant is required to watch prior to submitting his or her packet to Admissions. The video suggests that if applicants don’t share the core values espoused by the Academy, maybe they should look elsewhere for further education.
Other commandant updates:
- Col. Campbell said efforts are underway to better enhance the four-class system at the Academy. He suggested that USAFA had transformed into a two-class system over the years — fourth-class cadets and everybody else (upperclassmen). Rule changes will be implemented prior to the next academic year to provide progressively more freedoms to cadets as they advance through each year.
Dr. Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Office, told the BOV that sexual assault and sexual harassment continues to be a problem at all service academies, but the crimes remain largely underreported.
Galbreath said cadets and midshipmen are often reluctant to report sexual assaults because they are worried about the impact it will have on their careers or what retribution could occur.
Service academy survey results show that 15.8 percent of women and 2.4 percent of men (747 cadets and midshipmen) experienced sexual assault during the past academic year. <
“That’s the highest rate of sexual assault that we’ve had in the years since we’ve been conducting this survey,” Galbreath said.
According to the survey, 15.1 percent of USAFA women and 1.8 percent of men (221 cadets) experienced sexual assault in the past academic year. He noted that alcohol consumption was a contributing factor in most of the assaults.
Galbreath applauded efforts by USAFA to address the issue, including innovative prevention programs that are showing promise.
BOV member Lt. Col. (Ret.) Bruce Swezey agreed, saying that the Academy and its senior leaders have gone to “super Herculean” lengths to address sexual assault prevention and response.
The DoD’s SAPR office will be traveling to each of the service academies this summer to learn about prevention programs that are successful, Galbreath told the BOV, in an effort to assemble best practices that others can implement.