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Innovative partnership between Lipscomb University, Tennessee National Guard receives 2023 Army Community Partnership Award

Kim Chaudoin | 

Members of the first Tennessee National Guard cohort who graduated from Lipscomb University in December 2023.

Members of the first Tennessee National Guard cohort who graduated from Lipscomb University in December 2023.

The Department of the Army has announced that an innovative partnership between the Tennessee National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters and Lipscomb University’s College of Leadership & Public Service has won a 2023 Army Community Partnership Award.

The awards recognize Army installations and their community partners for initiatives that improve soldier and family quality of life, enhance readiness, contribute to modernization, improve cost efficiencies, expand capabilities, support Army priorities and strengthen local community relationships. From 30 submissions, six awards were selected and given nationally highlighting partnerships formed between fiscal years 2020 and 2023 that involved garrisons, reserve centers and armories. 

The partnership that earned this prestigious recognition is a Lipscomb Master of Arts in Leadership and Public Service program which offers a specialized cohort for Tennessee National Guard service members. 

“After careful consideration and judging, your commitment to create an all-military cohort in which service members pursue the Master of Arts in Leadership and Public Service stood out among the impressive submissions we received,” wrote Dave Leinberger, Army Community Partnerships, in the Feb. 9 award notification letter. “Your dedication to enhancing the partnership between the Army and the community has not gone unnoticed. We would like to express our sincere appreciation for your exceptional work and the positive impact it has had for the National Guard as well as your local community. Your efforts truly embody the spirit of collaboration and community service that the Army Community Partnership Award aims to celebrate.”

Launched two years ago, the inaugural Tennessee National Guard cohort of 13 students in the leadership and public service program graduated in December. Aimed at enhancing leadership skills among full- or part-time seasoned professionals in the Tennessee Army or Air National Guard is a practitioner-oriented degree program. The program has now expanded statewide with 25 students in the current cohort with a second location in Knoxville.

“Advancing innovation across our community and developing innovative partnerships such as the one we have with the Tennessee National Guard are key priorities for us,” said Lipscomb President Candice McQueen. “This innovative partnership exemplifies our commitment to fostering leadership excellence and advancing public service, serving as a model for how academia and military organizations can work together to address critical challenges and create lasting impact in our communities.”

Dean Steve Joiner speaks to the Tennessee National Guard cohort.

“Winning the 2023 Army Community Partnership Award is a testament to the transformative power of collaboration between the Tennessee National Guard and Lipscomb University's College of Leadership & Public Service,” said Steve Joiner, dean of the college. “The TN Guard has been an enthusiastic partner in developing this program. Our college continues to be a place where Tennessee turns for leadership and it is an honor to serve our soldiers in this way. Educating actively serving soldiers equips them for the transition into civilian life, providing transferable skills that set them up for success in a variety of roles.”

“This recognition is affirmation of the quality and impact of this program. The program challenges students with thought-provoking leadership experiences that encourage ongoing growth, reflection and lifelong learning, and is an important way we can serve those who serve and protect our nation,” said Laura Encalade, assistant professor and executive director of the School of Public Policy, housed in the College of Leadership & Public Service. 

Classes are held one evening a week at the Tennessee National Guard base in Nashville. Encalade said it was a priority to develop a program that “we could bring to them.”

“Not only does the professor travel to teach in a classroom at the Tennessee National Guard Joint Force Headquarters each week, we also provide dinner and buy the students’ books,” she said. “We work to make it accessible, helping to ensure that they can balance their military service, careers and family responsibilities while pursuing their education.”

Modeled from Lipscomb’s Regional Scholars Program that gives public servants from rural areas of Tennessee the opportunity to earn a discounted master’s degree with a focus on innovative leadership in statewide settings and take that education back to their communities to better serve their local constituents, the TN Guard-focused program provides a discount to military leaders who also want to better serve the state. 

A member of the Tennessee National Guard cohort makes a final presentation.

The honored installations and community partners will be recognized at an awards ceremony in April at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes. This will be hosted by Honorable Rachel Jacobson, assistant secretary of the United States Army Installations, Energy and Environment, as well as LTG Kevin Vereen, deputy chief of staff, G-9 who leads integration across the Army Enterprise to modernize installations, enhance quality of life, and develop policies plans and programs that enable the Army to recruit, train, deploy, fight and win.

Read more about Lipscomb’s inaugural TN Guard cohort here. Learn more about the Master of Arts in Leadership & Public Service program here