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Naval Community College Has First President

Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class John Goodwin, a Framingham, Massachussets, native, takes notes during the Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Non-Destructive Inspection (NDI) Mass Eddy Current Lab Feb. 7 aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. US Navy Photo

Randi Cosentino, an educator specializing in delivering secondary education to working adults, was named the first president of the newly-formed United States Naval Community College.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announced Cosentino’s appointment Thursday. He cited her experience pairing corporations with education opportunities for their workforces as an asset she brings to the Navy’s fledgling community college.

Modly reprogrammed $109 million in the current fiscal year to pay for education improvements, including launching the community college. An anticipated first class will begin in January 2021.

“Dr. Cosentino’s experience as an educator and administrator working with some of our nation’s largest private-sector employers will help ensure that all of our personnel have access to a top-notch education while serving our nation,” Modly said in a statement.

Cosentino comes to the Navy from Denver-based Guild Education. The firm works with companies such as Disney, Walmart and Chipotle to help employees use their company-sponsored education benefits to earn college degrees. Cosentino earned a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

The Naval Community College’s planned delivery model is very similar to what Cosentino established while working at Guild, Modly’s statement said. The Naval Community College is also designed to partner with civilian universities and community colleges, matching sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen with courses and paths to earning associate degrees.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve our nation’s naval services and to lead this new institution, as it develops innovative and collaborative approaches to educating America’s sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen,” Cosentino said in a statement. “The need for critical thinking, analytical problem solving, and effective communication skills that a college education provides has never been more important than it is in today’s rapidly changing world. I look forward to enhancing naval readiness by developing the intellectual foundations of our enlisted force.”

The community college’s focus is providing training for high-demand fields, such as cyber, computer science, data analytics, information technology and engineering. Cosentino’s job is overseeing the Naval Community College’s daily operations.

The Naval Community College is part of the newly formed Naval University System, which is part of the Navy’s Education for Seapower Strategy released in March. The strategy is designed to strengthen the Navy’s intellectual development and prepare personnel for what Modly says is an ever-changing future.

“Preparing for that future means investing in more platforms and new weapons systems, but nothing will be more important than the investment that we make in learning, and a force made up of people who thirst for it,” Modly said in his statement.