Eaker Center school transforms its structure, changes name

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

10/5/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- There's more than just a name change in store for the Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development's Air Force Human Resource Management School, which also is undergoing a total transformation in focus. The new name, the United States Air Force Personnel Professional Development School, is effective this month.

The original name of the school, which dates back to post- WWII, did not accurately reflect the many transformations within the field of personnel, according to Col. Lee Wyatt, the school's director, "So our name will be the USAF Personnel Professional Development School, which more closely reflects the changes in our career field and more closely associates one with what we do, which is all things people," said Wyatt. "Secondly, it aligns us more with our joint community, because most folks didn't know what a force support officer was. They knew what a personnel officer did."

Over the years, the Eaker Center has consolidated its array of duties relating to personnel, manpower and various services under one roof through its schools, which also include the Commanders' Professional Development School, the Defense Financial Management and Comptroller School, the Air Force Chaplain Corps College at Fort Jackson, S.C., and the National Security Space Institute at Peterson AFB, Colo.

The AFPPDS will focus more on the personnel field and has Wyatt looking at how courses can be designed to allow participants to shift easily from one career area to another within that field.

"The change is not necessarily focused on courses, but focused on how these courses are connected, how they're interrelated," he said. "That way we're actually delivering a full spectrum of development so an individual in the personnel career field can do what we expect them to do when it comes time for them to take over larger leadership jobs."

This shift has divided the AFPPDS into three areas to serve its two largest customers: force support squadrons and the civilian workforce.

The first division covers leadership and operation within the squadron for flight chiefs, operations officers, commanders, deputy commanders, civilian directors as well as mortuary officers, protocol and the Airmen and Family Readiness Center.

Workforce diversity and civilian development comprise the second area, where leadership and equal opportunity is applied to supervisory and personnel management courses both for military and civilians.

The last area deals with future learning, civilian education and labor management relations in the most cost-effective manner. This is achieved through the application of such distance learning tools as e-Blended Learning, Defense Connect Online and Blackboard, according to Wyatt.

"What we're focused more on in that division is how do we take the classroom to the student? How do we honor Airmen's time but also, how do we meet the requirements needed?"he said.

Some of the other specialty areas the AFPPDS offers are sexual assault response coordination, labor unions, protocol, mortuary services, supervisory roles, civilian employee orientation and training for a "force bed-down," which provides troops with food, housing and entertainment.