By Dr. Chris Reynolds, Dean, Academic Outreach and Program Development
We have all likely encountered Transportation Security Administration (TSA) professionals and it’s clear that they have an extremely difficult job protecting our nation’s transportation infrastructure and each one of us when we travel. Earlier this week, we proudly announced a significant expansion of our existing TSA partnership. American Public University (APU) was selected by the TSA’s Institute of Higher Education as one of just two partners in education from a total field of 19 institutions nationwide to serve up to 20,000 TSA employees at 147 airports across 14 states and five U.S. territories.
In fact, since 2015, we have offered a special closed-cohort program to TSA employees at 49 airports in six states, allowing them to reduce the time required to complete their TSA Certificate by nearly 40%, from 18 to 11 months. Our eight- and 12-week programs include undergraduate learning tracks and certificates covering a broad spectrum of homeland security-related topics, and we also provide an array of security-specific continuing education courses, contingent on TSA funding.
The impact of this relationship is twofold. First, it provides a dedicated and hard-working group of professionals the opportunity to complete their job-specific transportation certificate, and second, it enhances our educational programs by providing a motivated and serious cadre of learners. In addition, the expansion of our TSA relationship tightly aligns with both our university mission and vision to educate those who serve. I am truly proud of the quality higher education opportunities that we provide to the men and women who protect us and our nation each and every day.
To show just how far we have come in growing this critical relationship, since January 2015, we have held seven cohorts consisting of 28 unique courses with a total of 537 TSA employees. Of those students, roughly two-thirds have completed one of the three fundamental courses, while the balance have completed one of the five electives. In addition, we have conducted three TSA-only webinars to the larger nationwide TSA employee base.
Our selection as one of just two primary providers for the TSA speaks very highly of the teamwork and solution-oriented approach of everyone involved at APU. I want to particularly recognize School of Security and Global Studies (SGS) Dean Dr. Mark Riccardi and his SGS program and faculty directors, along with both Jennifer Lawson and Eric Morris from our Center for Applied Learning for their collective dedication to the success of the TSA program. We all look forward to a productive, mutually beneficial relationship moving forward.