Captain Markus Gudmundsson came to NPS in 2018 to assume the role of dean of students. In this position, he serves as the commanding officer of the student military element and is responsible for matters related to students’ health, welfare, discipline, academic standing, accountability and travel. He spoke with us about COVID-19's impact on NPS, how he's seen the school grow and change over the years, and also shared highlights and challenges of his own naval career.
My role as dean of students is to support student requirements. I look out for student interests. Much of my time is addressing the specific needs of a few students who are really challenged. You can name any challenge that a human might experience and we’ve got a student who is experiencing that. Students come to us with eight to 15 years of military experience which includes training, deployment, separation from family, etc. They have been active participants in military operations. I tell them at student orientation, ‘This is your opportunity to take a look at your deferred maintenance issues, or the issues that you didn’t have the time to address in your breakneck pace of train/deploy/train/deploy.’ Those issues may be medical issues, family issues, or mental health challenges. I have all of the resources that can address those issues and my main job is making the connection between the need and the resource, and advertise that that’s an important thing to do.
They are the best of the best; the hand-selected from the hand-selected; proven professionals and dedicated patriots. They come here with real fleet challenges and they have a dedication to solve them, and in many cases they do. It’s amazing to see.
There has been a tremendous amount of effort in strengthening and expanding our ability to connect with industry and other centers of technological innovation. We are a much more strategically driven organization than we were three years ago. Putting our strategic plan to work has been fascinating to watch. Our ability to work with the NPS Foundation and other non-federal entities has also improved tremendously.
NPS students come here with knowledge and experience with real fleet challenges and a desire to solve them. There is no other graduate institution that only admits professional career military members. This student population does not exist anywhere else in the world. That is a unique opportunity for industry because we have unique technological challenges that we can partner with industry to solve. A student or faculty member with their unique project partnering with industry is the only way we can leverage the industrial strength to see those challenges to a conclusion. The flip side is, industry often comes up with really good ideas but doesn’t understand how to apply them. If there is a more transparent relationship with some industry partners, we may be able to look at a capability in a way different than anybody else and help them apply it. The exchange of ideas and experiences and capitalizing on our unique student population and the industrial strength of our partners is really important.