Ed Dennis joined Bryant & Stratton College Online in June 2010 to lead the Military Relations Department at Bryant & Stratton College Online. Prior to this, he served for 21 years in the United States Army, starting as a Private and retiring as a Major. Throughout his career he used the Army Continuing Education System to continuously develop himself personally and professionally. His extensive knowledge and first-hand experience with the armed forces brings invaluable expertise to Bryant & Stratton College to support the needs of active duty , veteran and military spouse students.
Tell us about your military background.
ED: I entered the Army as an enlisted military policeman in 1989, and served in four different units before attending OCS (Officer Candidate School). Upon completion of OCS, I was commissioned as an Ordnance Officer and served as a maintenance officer for four years before attending EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) training. I spent the remaining 9 years of my career as an EOD Officer both overseas and in the United States until I retired in 2010. In that time, I served in leadership positions from team leader to Commander, with three years as an Instructor/TAC (Trainer Advisor Counselor) for LT’s and CPT’s in the Ordnance Corps. I found joy in teaching others, and now continue utilizing that passion as an Adjunct Professor for Bryant & Stratton College Online.
Upon retirement from the Army, I wanted to enter a career that assisted fellow veterans and provided a sense of fulfillment. I had already served 21 years in the Army, and respect the work that is done by the Department of Defense Civilians, but wanted to apply my skills in the private sector. Throughout the job search process, I had to choose which path I wanted to take. My interview with Bryant & Stratton College Online really impressed me and the following dialogue with senior managers reassured me that this was the direction that I wanted to pursue.
Tell us about your work in the Military Relations Department at Bryant & Stratton College Online.
ED: Bryant & Stratton College Online understands that military servicemen and women have unique lifestyles and that they need personalized attention. They looked to me for guidance on how to help meet those needs. I approached this with three goals in mind: continuously improve our internal procedures, provide staff education and training, and form strong relationships with ESO’s (Education Service Officers). Since I served for more than two decades in the military, I know first-hand that career and education are two important (and often challenging) issues for military students and their families. I first took a look at the internal procedures and policies currently in place and how it related to the process military members use to request tuition assistance, in order to make that process as military friendly as possible for them. In addition, I looked at the policies for withdrawal, deployment, and any other unique circumstances service members could face.
I then worked with the senior leaders at Bryant & Stratton College Online, to update the policies to benefit service members, family members, and Veterans. Based on the new changes, classes were developed and staff training began. My goal was to not only inform the staff of the new changes, but also give them a lesson in Military 101.
Finally, once our internal procedures were in place and the staff informed about military affiliated students, I started to work on building relationships with the ESO’s by attending service level education events to meet with Education Service Officers and share with them the opportunities for service members and families at Bryant & Stratton College Online.
How can you help not only military service members but also their families in their education journey?
ED: With the high OPTEMPO (Operational Tempo), the military focuses much more on families than they did when I started in 1989. This is because it is not only the service member, but the family that endures the hardships of deployment. There is a very valid concern among spouses that they may need to enter the workforce at some point due to family support issues, or they desire to enter the workforce for personal and family goals. I think that in many cases it is harder for spouses during deployments, so I treat them the same as I would a service member or veteran when providing assistance.
Why is Bryant & Stratton College Online perfect for military families?
ED: Bryant & Stratton College Online provides a high level of support to all students and strongly believes in personalized education. This fits well with military families because there is accountability at every level. Students are not referred to a bank of “Academic Advisors,” but instead they are given an assigned Academic Advisor who focuses on guiding that student in achieving their personal career and educational goals while they are enrolled with Bryant & Stratton College Online. In addition, we are a career college that focuses on high academic standards. For students this translates into being better prepared for the career field they want to enter, and a higher degree of success. Finally, we offer several portable degrees that adapt well to the constant moves that military families face every couple of years.