The Coast Guard Academy & other comissioning sources, a look at diversity

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Yesterday the Compass talked about the results of the OAS report, which is a report that goes over how the people within the Coast Guard feel about their workplace. One of the statistics you can see on the chart is diversity.  It is the third column over on this chart.

I noticed that recently there has been some media attention given to the Naval Academy’s diversity for the incoming academy class. So this along with the post about OAS made it seem like a good time to point out some interesting diversity facts on the Coast Guard’s officer commissioning programs.

NEW LONDON, Conn. - Graduating cadets at the Coast Guard Academys 128th Commencement Exercises take their oath of office and officially become ensigns, Wednesday, May 20, 2009 in New London, Conn. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delivered the keynote speech to the 225 graduating members of the Class of 2009. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Victoria Bonk)

The Academy’s Class of 2013 is pretty close to being finalized with 285 applicants having accepted appointment offers out of a total entering class size of 290. As of June 9, the Class of 2013 reflects a total minority population of 15.5 percent, more than a 35 percent increase over last year. We’re continuing to show a very strong female enrollment rate as the class of 2013 is projected to contain 29 percent women, higher than any other service academy by a wide margin.

One successful program for recruiting and maintaining a diverse cadet corps is the Coast Guard Academy Scholars program. The program prepares potential Coast Guard Academy cadets for success at the Academy through intensive academic instruction. Out of the 44 minority students in the Class of 2013, 19 came directly from the Scholars program. Due to the success of the CGA Scholars program, the Commandant, Admiral Thad Allen, has asked the Human Resources Directorate and the Academy to expand the program even more in the coming academic years.

We don’t just get officers from the Academy; there are a number of commissioning sources including programs that bring officers from the enlisted ranks, from civilian applicants, or from maritime schools.

COMPASS (not this blog but this COMPASS) is another program that works hard to increase diversity in our personnel. The program is designed around a core team of Coast Guard volunteers representing a diverse mix of multi-cultural and multi-organizational backgrounds. COMPASS members focus outreach efforts on communities that have not traditionally heard about the Coast Guard and go the recruiters have not yet been. Efforts like this can help increase the pool of potential Guardians to a more diverse collection of people.

One other program to mention real quick is the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI) program. Just an FYI on the program, college sophomores can receive active duty pay at the rate of E-3, as well as a scholarship for their junior and senior year. Upon graduation, candidates attend the 17 week Coast Guard Officer Candidate School (OCS) and are commissioned as an ensign. But I digress!

The CSPI program works to gain greater visibility of the Coast Guard at minority serving institutions. While not limited to minority students, CSPI has a proven record of attracting minority officer candidates and is a success story in increasing diversity in the officer core.  Of the current 42 candidates in the program, 48 percent are minority and 38 percent are female.

The projected pool of applicants for this year looks like it will be the biggest candidate pool of any CSPI selection panel to date with 60 to 70 applicants, which is a significant increase over the 48 applicants in 2008 and the 30 in 2007.

We are making good progress in building an officer corps that reflects the diversity found in the public we serve.  As long as we continue this upward trend things are looking good for increasing our diversity, and a diverse group is a balanced group, which can lead to even greater mission success.

A. Thorsson

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