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Interview with Dr. Miner

 

R. Clinton Miner, PhD
(Interim) President & CEO

You recently joined The National Graduate School of Quality Management as its president. Recognizing that NGS has undergone a lot of change and challenge in recent years, why did you take on this role?

NGS is an outstanding institution. I believe wholeheartedly in its mission to provide innovative, dynamic, quality education to adult learners throughout the U.S. When I was at University of Oklahoma, we partnered with NGS to offer Quality Systems Training for the Air Force. This was a tremendously successful partnership over 3 years and set the standard for QSM enterprise training. I’ve been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2006 and as I transition to President, I’ve been impressed with the quality of our faculty, the staff’s commitment to our mission, and the real benefits that students gain from the NGS experience. I also see opportunities to build on our success and ensure that NGS remains on the leading edge of innovative quality education programming.

You’ve taken over a year after the founder moved on. What is your vision for the future?

It starts and ends with our students. Our goal is that every student has an NGS experience that transforms the way they think and act in the workplace, enhances their value to their organizations, and increases their leadership skills and career opportunities. Ultimately, we’d like to expand the school’s footprint and student base; we believe that a larger graduate network will support better knowledge building, professional development, and career possibilities for our alumni.

Twenty years ago, NGS’ founder had an extraordinary vision of creating a non-traditional education opportunity focused on the quality systems management discipline for working professionals. At the time, this was a groundbreaking concept. And, while it’s is even more relevant today, the nature of continuous lifelong learning has evolved; organizational needs, the education landscape, and our community’s needs have changed. We are transforming NGS to meet the needs of today’s career professionals and will continue our unyielding commitment to our students’ success.

You mentioned that NGS is transforming, why?

With the NGS Transformation Initiative we are creating a new future. A new future for our school; a new future for our students. This approach builds on NGS’ strengths, but the real focus is on creating new processes, a new culture, new methodologies, and new results. Organizations must evolve to remain relevant and meet the needs of their customers; in the case of NGS, our students. Working with our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and corporate partners, this initiative will ensure NGS continues to support the personal and professional success of our graduates in their increasingly challenging work environment.

How do you make something like the NGS Transformation Initiative real?

The first step is to think of the NGS environment as dynamic and responsive, not static. NGS teaches students how to lead and manage in constantly changing environments with a focus on quality and results; that’s what we need to do within our own institution as well. Second, we must engage our partners and key stakeholders – our board, faculty, staff and alumni – and continually assess and measure the quality of our programs and services and their efficacy in supporting our graduates’ success. That continual assessment results in specific actions with measurable results that, when implemented, improve our outcomes: quality education and services. Finally, we need to ensure our students, faculty and the organization’s efforts are aligned –each party must fully commit to the success of their school; our school. .

What value does NGS offer its students and the global marketplace?

Our programs are competency-based and designed to provide the knowledge and skill-sets our students need to succeed in a competitive global environment. While NGS courses are grounded in proven theoretical concepts, our program outcomes focus on developing the competencies and leadership skills our graduates need to immediately contribute to their organization’s success in significant ways. In fact, applying classroom concepts in one’s own workplace and creating value for the employer is a student requirement for all of our programs. Students return to the classroom and share what works and what didn’t, and the team learns from the experience. Our graduates help make their organizations successful in the shirking global market.

Your format involves a great deal of virtual or distance learning. Given NGS’ focus on management, competency-based courses and forward thinking, does this model work?

The NGS online learning environment is rich with student collaboration, interaction with faculty members, and access to in-depth content. Leveraging the distance education technologies allows us to maintain a high level of quality educational experiences while accommodating our students – who are working professionals. In fact, we have found that our virtual learning environment provides more opportunities for interaction, discussion, and reflection than a setting bounded by brick and mortar. This is an area where we see great potential as part of the NGS Transformation Initiative.

What can your students expect from the NGS experience?

We provide a range of in-depth competencies for professionals in the workplace who want to grow professionally, remain relevant in their professions, and develop leadership skills. From helping early managers learn the basics of operations, teamwork, small project leadership, problem solving and implementing complex new systems (at the Bachelor’s level) providing leadership and working with CEO level leaders on making a business case for change, calculating ROI for different operational models, influencing decision makers and transforming organizations (at the Master’s and Doctorate levels), our diverse Quality Systems Management-based programs are designed to give students the skill-sets they need to affect change from top to bottom in any organization. Our particular strengths are in government, health care, defense and education, but these skills are relevant in any work environment. Our graduates can drive the engine for organizational change and increased competitiveness.

As part of our Transformation Initiative, we are reviewing all aspects of the curriculum – from the content itself to the way it is taught in the online space. We have some exciting improvements and changes in the works that will enhance the students’ educational experiences with our outstanding faculty, other students’, and subject-matter experts.

We are also creating a service culture within the school – modeling what we teach! We’re looking at ways to improve the experience inside and outside the classroom in areas including course registration, academic advising, programs and course evaluations, as well as post graduate networking. We have strengthened our continuous feedback loop between students and NGS, assuring that we continue to exceed all expectations and position our graduates for success and professional advancement.

Tell us about the faculty and how they will evolve during the Transformation Initiative?

Our faculty are simply some of the best I have ever seen. Our faculty represents a unique combination of individuals, including those with multiple advanced degrees and published scholars to leading practitioners and senior managers in the area of quality systems management in various sectors – aerospace, national defense, health care, auto, and small business to name a few. We are creating new career pathways for our faculty, conducting continuous professional development and regular evaluations to ensure their skills and competencies continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of our student community.

What drives you?

Two things: education and quality. I have been fortunate to have had several careers, in the military, in corporations, and in higher education. I’ve run large education programs before, including major global operations, with budgets approaching $60 million. All of those experiences have shaped my life in profound ways. The underpinning was always life-long learning and growth and strive to do one’s very bestquality is about value. My hope is that I play some small role, with the NGS staff, in bringing value into peoples’ lives by providing them outstanding quality educational experiences. The passion, energy, commitment, and sacrifices of our students drive me to continually strive to do “the right thing” by each and every one of our students..

Tell us a little bit about yourself personally?

I’m a West Point graduate who served on active duty for 22 years. I started in the Infantry after Ranger school and jumping out of planes and later, became a helicopter pilot and instructor pilot. I was fortunate to have many leadership opportunities while in the Army.I went on to earn a PhD in adult higher education and hold various leaderhip postions in and out of higher education. I’ve lived in places around the globe — from Oklahoma (go Boomer Sooners) to most recently, Switzerland. With four daughters, family life has always been busy, but I make time for biking, traveling, skiing, theater and the movies. I love living in Falmouth and humbled to have this opportunity.