LEAVENWORTH – May is synonymous with graduation, and it’s also National Military Appreciation Month. In the spirit of both, the University of Kansas is celebrating its largest graduating class in the history of its programs in the city of Leavenworth.
In one year, the number of graduates from KU’s off-post Leavenworth programs more than tripled to 30 students, most of whom are active members of the military. Fort Leavenworth is home to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), in which midcareer officers spend a year furthering their education and training to develop their skills and rise in the ranks. During this year, these officers may complement their training with civilian studies. Two such officers are Sam Diehl and Peter Frischholz, who graduated from KU’s Master of Science in Business and Organizational Leadership program during the ceremony in Lawrence on May 13. Diehl shared his story with the crowd as a featured speaker during the School of Business ceremony on May 11.
“This program complements the CGSC curriculum well,” Diehl said. “The classes offer diverse perspectives that inform your approach to problems and recognizing universal themes of leadership in the civilian and military sectors.”
Diehl, an aeromedical evacuation officer and UH-60 Black Hawk aviator, received his undergraduate degree in health sciences from James Madison University. For the past 13 years, he planned and executed medical evacuation missions. He will stay in Leavenworth for another year to attend the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies and said he thinks the training he received from KU prepared him for this and the next stages of his career.
“I didn’t just want a piece of paper,” Diehl said. “I was attracted to the curriculum — it was a good balance of what was interesting and professionally relevant to me. The reputation of the school and business program was also important.”
Diehl’s classmate, Peter Frischholz, a career military officer serving in the U.S. Army Special Forces, agreed.
“Over the last 10 years or so, I’ve been engaged in leadership in the Army,” Frischholz said. “When I was selected for CGSC at Fort Leavenworth, I came upon KU’s business and organizational leadership program. CGSC is investing in us to go back into leadership. This has been a great opportunity to learn the theories of business and leadership and how they apply.”
For the past 10 years, KU has offered two programs inside Fort Leavenworth: the Master of Science in Business - Supply Chain Management & Logistics and a Master of Arts in Global & International Studies - Interagency Track. In 2016, KU expanded its offerings off-post to include a Master of Science in Homeland Security: Law & Policy, a Master of Science in Business & Organizational Leadership and a Master of Engineering in Project Management.
“The growth of our student population is evidenced by the size of the class of 2018, which is also why we recently expanded our classroom space,” said Mike Denning, director of the Office of Graduate Military Programs at KU. “Our programs in Leavenworth offer unique, relevant, high-quality learning opportunities. We look forward to continuing our service to these military, veteran and civilian students.”
Diehl and Frischholz, whose next step is to serve as an Army Special Forces company commander, credit the mix of civilian and military perspectives for adding value to their experience.
“Our classmates have several different career paths and experiences,” Frischholz said. “The program brings these people together to challenge each other. A lot of the professors are ex-military, so they can communicate to us. This program will help me further my career. I feel much more confident.”