MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala.(AFNS) — As the U.S. Air Force’s pinnacle institution, Air University leverages select airmen for a two-year developmental opportunity on campus as part of the AU Fellows program.

Under the program, high-performing officers earn the opportunity to serve as faculty members before entering or after completing in-resident Air Command and Staff College.

For example, an AU Fellow could have the opportunity to teach, lead and mentor students for a year as faculty at Squadron Officer School before attending ACSC.

“I feel like this experience has been a huge growth opportunity for me,” said Maj. Jake Roney, SOS faculty member and AU Fellow. “The AU Fellowship gives me the chance to have hands-on teaching experience in areas that will directly transition into what is next for me at ACSC. Being in the flight room with all of these different perspectives and teaching them curriculum that is designed to challenge the way they think is definitely going to make me a better student and it is making me a better leader every day.”

The Air University commander’s program is designed to increase the overall quality of AU faculty while providing select officers with enhanced developmental opportunities. The program is a two-year selective developmental assignment that entails in-residence attendance at ACSC and faculty duty in an AU educational program. The opportunity is designed to ensure that the year as faculty is on par with other Air Force fellowships, providing broad development opportunities.

“When it is time for me to leave campus and lead again somewhere else, I’m definitely going to be more prepared because of this experience,” Roney said. “I’ve had the opportunity to teach situational leadership, talk about different types of leadership, think, write and do all of those types of things that we say good leaders need to do. Often times, that is hard to do outside of this environment, so this is so extremely valuable for me while simultaneously letting me keep my family in one place longer.”

Air University Fellows are placed into one of three categories. Option A is a year as a faculty member at SOS, followed by ACSC. For option B, the AU Fellow spends a year as an ACSC student then a year as ACSC faculty. In option C, the officer’s first year is as an ACSC student, followed by a year on faculty at Officer Training School

All track options are board-selected by the AU Developmental Education Designation Board.

Quality outplacement for all faculty is a priority at AU, including those completing the AU Fellows program. Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, AU commander and president, has emphasized that departing military faculty be placed in positions that take advantage of the experience and knowledge gained while at the university.

“The AU Fellows program is one of General Cotton’s highest priorities,” said Col. Jeffrey Donnithorne, AU chief academic officer. “His calendar is consistently peppered with individual one-on-one meetings with the AU Fellows, as he is eager to learn more about their experiences as Airmen and AU faculty. The Fellows experience the powerful developmental combination of both faculty and student status, while the university benefits from having the Air Force’s best officers at the front of the classroom, bringing credibility and expertise to our educational mission.”