(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 []



                           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.