AU Board of Visitors meeting features new leader

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

4/13/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- When the Air University Board of Visitors meets next week, Norman Augustine will lead his first meeting as chair.

"We're very honored and fortunate to have him," said Dr. Bruce Murphy, vice president for academic affairs.

Augustine, who has been on the board since 2008, is replacing Dr. Jack Hawkins. He will serve for two years, and will be replaced by Dr. Muriel Howard, the current chair-elect.

The board will meet Monday and Tuesday at Maxwell Air Force Base, as will its subcommittees: academic affairs, future learning and technology, institutional advancement and research.

Members will learn more about the Blue Horizons studies run by the Center for Strategy and Technology, and the Air War College's Grand Strategy Program.

The current AU board features members from across the country and different backgrounds, including several retired four-star generals, a former chief master sergeant of the Air Force, current and former university presidents and business people in a variety of fields.

Having a diverse board provides valuable feedback and guidance for the Air University. "It gives us an objective picture of what we're doing," Murphy said. "The independent nature of the board helps to give objective viewpoints."

The new chair agrees. "Boards are at their best when they include individuals who offer diverse perspectives and diverse fields of expertise," he wrote in the January 2011 edition of "Directors and Boards" magazine. "The board's function is not to provide good management; it is to assure that good management is provided."

Augustine's background is diverse, featuring participation in business, education, military and nonprofit organizations.

He served as president and CEO of Lockheed Martin, chairman and principal officer of the American Red Cross and undersecretary of the Army. He was on the faculty of Princeton University and was on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for 16 years.

Augustine has traveled to more than 110 countries, and has visited both the North and South poles.

Murphy said Augustine has already implemented changes, shortening the meetings to one-and-a-half days. "He wants to focus on issues rather than just information," he said. "(His focus is) how we can help AU resolve these issues."

The board also adopted changes to how its members receive information by going paperless. "The time has come to leapfrog the annual meeting from the late 1800s into the early 21st century, all in one giant step," Augustine wrote. Bios, agendas and supporting documents are available for members to download.

"This has saved us money and fits with Augustine's philosophy of governing boards," Murphy said.

In recent years, the board has made advancements in the academic side of the Air University, helping to develop the doctorate and honorary degree programs. The board also helped implement the addition of president to the commander's title, making Lt. Gen. David Fadok the first president and commander of the Air University.

Gen. Muir S. Fairchild, the first AU commander, initiated the board of visitors in 1946, just 15 days after the university was established. The goal was to attain advice on the academic aspects of AU from senior educators and university administrators.

Over the years, the board has welcomed Thomas Watson, chairman and CEO of IBM; Henry Luce, who founded Time magazine; and presidents from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. Currently, the board has 30 members.

Members are eligible to serve for up to eight years and must be reappointed each year by the secretary of defense. Since the Air University's commanders will serve an average of 2.4 years, the board is helpful in providing a longer-range outlook. "They can provide stability, an expert voice across a longer period of time," Murphy said.