December 9, 2003 - Issue: Vol. 149, No. 176 — Daily Edition108th Congress (2003 - 2004) - 1st Session
IN SUPPORT OF THE AIR FORCE ACADEMY
(Extensions of Remarks - December 09, 2003)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E2520] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] IN SUPPORT OF THE AIR FORCE ACADEMY ______ HON. HENRY BONILLA of texas in the house of representatives Monday, December 8, 2003 Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Speaker, I ask to enter the editorial ``Aiming High: Academy Still Soars Above Rivals in Terms of Academics and Research Work,'' which appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette on October 30, 2003, into the Congressional Record. Aiming High: Academy Still Soars Above Rivals in Terms of Academics and Research Work Wednesday in this space we dabbled in the negative, wrestling with some of the continuing fallout from the Air Force Academy sex scandal. Today we accentuate the positive, mindful, as we all should be, that the occasionally disheartening headlines we see concerning the academy hardly present a fair and balanced reflection of what remains one of the nation's premier military and academic institutions. What brings this to mind is a document that landed on our desk this week, the school's ``Annual research Report,'' which will be distributed to the four-star and invited three- star generals attending next week's Corona Conference at the academy. While not something the academy is attempting to spoon-feed the media in an effort to polish its reputation,the report catalogs some truly impressive accomplishments out at the academy--in part a result of the leadership shown by the dean of faculty since 1998, Brig. Gen. David A. Wagie. Wagie, as readers may be aware, last month was singled out for special criticism by the Fowler Commission, a congressionally appointed panel responsible for the latest regurgitation of the academy sex scandal. Its report suggested that Wagie hadn't been held accountable for problems that occurred during his tenure. And that's led to speculation that Wagie could be the next Air Force official invited to fall on his sword to assuage Washington witch hunters. But by at least one critical measure of performance--the school's academics--the general seems to have been doing an outstanding job. The school's academic environment in recent years consistently has been ranked among the nation's best by the Princeton review. In 2000, the academy earned the review's top ranking for providing the best overall academic experience for undergraduates; and it tied for third in that category in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Last year the school also took top honors in terms of professor accessibility, the study habits of students and the excellence of its library. FAA's undergraduate engineering program was ranked fourth best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2000, 2001 and 2002; and sixth in the nation in 2003. We read a lot these days about cadet surveys, mostly revolving around the school's sexual climate or reform efforts. But in another survey, the National survey of Student Engagement, fourth-class and first-class cadets in 2002 ranked the school highly in terms of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interactions and a supportive campus environment. During his tenure, Wagie has brought the academy into its own as a top-flight research university. Funding for research has quintupled since 1997, from $2.6 million to $123 million this year, collaborative research work with private companies, universities and federal agencies has increased, and five new research centers have been added, engaging the talents of 887 faculty or staff and 230 students. And the research has real world relevance for the Air Force and the nation. One team of academy researchers solved a battery problem plaguing the unmanned serial vehicles playing such an important role in the war on terror, doubling the air-crafts's range and greatly reducing battery costs. And they did it in less than two months. The school also in the past year provided high performance computing supporting addressing stability problems that have plagued the V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft program, and helped enhance the capabilities of C-130 ``Commando Solo'' aircraft, which handle psychological operations and civil affairs broadcast missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. In spite of being buffeted by occasionally ugly news, it's clear that on at least one important front--academics--Wagie and the academy continue to soar high above most other U.S. institutions of higher learning. ____________________