MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Since it was created in 1946, Air University played a critical role in military education thanks to its team of instructors, one of whom has recently distinguished himself from the rest after winning a major award.
Lt. Col. David J. Ratliff, Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development instructor, was recently selected as the 2017 Air Force Financial Management and Comptroller Educator of the Year.
“It’s an honor [to receive this award], my feeling is, when an individual gets an award like this, what it means is that people have taken care of them,” Ratliff said. “Receiving this award makes me feel very grateful that I’ve had leadership that is interested in my success.”
The Eaker Center’s Defense Financial Management Comptroller School offers three courses that reach more than 400 students annually. Their flagship course is the Defense Financial Management Course, which focuses primarily on expanding the perspective of developing financial management leaders.
“It is really hard to get through a class with me without hearing a lot about economics, and it doesn’t matter what we’re talking about,” Ratliff said. “The reason is because we define economics as the study of the allocation of resources. Every decision you make allocates resources, and your life is defined by the decisions that you make. Every decision you make, therefore, is an economic decision.”
Before joining the staff of the DFMCS, Ratliff taught in the economics department at the Air Force Academy, where he says he learned a lot from their teaching philosophy.
“[When teaching] you have an option: I can either teach the lesson that I planned or I can teach you the things you need to learn,” he said. “My focus when I teach is generally to connect with individuals. I ask a lot of questions because I like for people to do a lot of the thinking on their own. I think we have a lot of smart people in the DoD and sometimes it’s just a matter of asking questions that allows people to connect the dots.”
Ratliff’s teaching style hasn’t gone unnoticed. A co-worker described it as both engaging and fun.
“He has a passion that is contagious,” said Rick Diggs, director of curriculum at DFMCS, “A passion about learning, about teaching and about sharing that makes him vastly equipped to do what we do allowing him to affect lives and affect students in not only their professional development but also their personal development.”
Ratliff will be formally presented his award during at the American Society of Military Comptrollers National Professional Development Institute in Denver during their annual awards ceremony on May 30, 2018.