Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Grant, center, is honored during a small, informal hooding ceremony in recognition of his award of a Doctor of Philosophy in Security Studies. The university officially graduates its Spring Quarter class today, June 12, and is joined by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael M. Gilday and several senior leaders in a video celebrating the graduates' accomplishments produced by the university.

The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) celebrated its 2020 Spring Quarter graduates, June 12, celebrating the class’ remarkable achievements as they adapted to the COVID-19 environment. Shelter-in-place orders required a wholesale adjustment to remote learning, but it didn’t change the graduates’ requirements to complete NPS’ rigorous academic and research programs.

In remarks recorded prior to the ceremony, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Michael Gilday congratulated the 323 graduates, including 22 international students from 16 countries, conveying the importance of expertise, creativity and character in Navy leaders as they face warfighting challenges.

“We are proud of all you have accomplished – a master’s degree with a purpose,” said Gilday. “And you did it while adapting to a global pandemic and adjusted to remote work and virtual learning seamlessly. We need you to take all you’ve learned at NPS and translate that into a warfighting advantage for our Navy, our Joint Forces, and our allies and partners.”

“We need leaders who can think globally across all domains while still being an expert in their own warfighting discipline,” continued Gilday. “We need leaders who can adapt and provide creative solutions during times of disruption, like with COVID-19. We need leaders of character, leaders who can speak the truth and always choose the harder right over the more convenient or expedient wrong.”

Gilday emphasized how education, and specifically how an NPS education, propels graduates to pioneer new operating concepts and capabilities.

“We face a determined set of adversaries that have spent decades studying our methods to offset our traditional strengths,” said Gilday. “We depend on research and studies like those being undertaken at NPS right now to make investments that will be decisive in the future.”

As Gilday now expects these graduates to strengthen the fleet, NPS President retired Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau also believes these leaders represent the unfolding of the Sea Service’s “Education for Seapower” initiative, which aims to increase the intellectual capital and warfighting competence of the force – in other words – they are “Education for Seapower in action.”

“As graduates of our university, you are now empowered to be the agents of change who champion the next challenges and the solutions to those challenges,” said Rondeau in video to the spring class. “Through your thoughts, leadership, strength and collective will, you will be the determinate force behind the solutions that will always be required in our uncertain world.”

With the uncertainty and dynamic change of the COVID environment, NPS faculty, students and staff rapidly acclimated to online collaboration tools for distance learning and remote delivery of instruction and services. Faculty with experience teaching in NPS’ existing distance learning programs provided lessons and feedback to help other faculty make the transition.

“Graduates, you have completed your degree requirements under challenging circumstances,” said Acting Provost and Academic Dean Dr. Robert F. Dell. “Finishing your theses and capstone projects… is hard enough without transitioning to a full distance learning environment in just a few weeks. But you did it, and you not only endured, you excelled, honoring your services and your nations with exemplary scholarship.”

As students accepted and adapted to the changes needed to achieve their educational goals, they each learned something beyond the coursework they will be able to draw upon as they face challenges ahead as leaders.

“NPS has given you powerful tools and we’re relying on you to use them to make us stronger,” said Gilday. “I have high hopes that due to the manner in which you graduated, you’ll be uniquely suited to face tomorrow’s challenges better than those who have gone before you.”

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