The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) celebrated a significant milestone on Sept. 8 with the establishment of an NPS branch campus at Pearl Harbor.
The new academic center, known as “NPS Hawaii,” will extend the reach and impact of NPS academic offerings to the fleet and force consistent with the institution’s primary purpose to meet naval-unique needs in graduate education. NPS Hawaii will provide relevant professional development programs for continuous learning and research to support operational needs, innovation and the intellectual growth of servicemembers as called for in the Secretary of the Navy’s recently published Naval Education Strategy.
What’s more, NPS Hawaii is also aimed at bolstering NPS’ responsiveness to the specific education and research needs of the Pacific Fleet. The presence of an NPS branch campus in a fleet concentration area aligns with PACFLT’s mission of maritime security and stability and emphasizes defense-focused educational opportunities.
“NPS Hawaii will tangibly increase our warfighting capability in the Pacific. In its geography, connections to northern California and traditions as a flagship institution of learning, NPS and PACFLT are natural fits and inseparable partners,” said Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander of PACFLT, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for NPS Hawaii at Makalapa on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
NPS Hawaii follows in the footsteps of other major cooperative efforts between NPS and PACFLT, most notably the establishment of the Naval Warfare Studies Institute (NWSI) in 2021 and the creation of the Nimitz Research Group in 2022. Retired Vice Adm. Ann Rondeau, president of NPS, highlighted these collaborations and their importance to both institutions.
“In today’s dynamic and challenging environment, to outmaneuver and outfight, we must first be able to outthink an adversary,” Rondeau said. “NPS and PACFLT are focused on increasing our cognitive readiness and intellectual leadership to ensure U.S. maritime dominance.”
Rondeau also described the creation of NPS Hawaii as a key component of the NPS Strategic Framework, which places a priority on extending the reach of – and access to – NPS education.
“This ceremony today reflects a larger NPS strategic initiative to deliver highly relevant, focused education at the time and at the point of need,” Rondeau said. “For the Navy to stay ahead of competitors and potential adversaries, NPS must be on the leading edge of the Navy’s efforts. With this in mind, we have been working to transform NPS, to make NPS more transformative as a catalyst for driving technological leadership in our Navy. We believe fundamentally that how we educate and learn is essential toward adaptation at pace, and NPS must be an institution that leads in the application of knowledge to naval warfighting.”
Dr. Joseph Hooper, NPS vice provost for academic affairs, led the initiative to create NPS Hawaii. He emphasized the significance of having a branch campus located in proximity to PACFLT headquarters.
“NPS Hawaii at PACFLT will serve as a focal point for NPS classes on the island, as well as a meeting place to coordinate joint research efforts,” noted Hooper. “The broader NPS Hawaii umbrella offers a mechanism for officers, enlisted, and civilians at PACFLT to enroll in educational opportunities coordinated jointly between fleet leadership and the university.”
Course offerings at NPS Hawaii will be concentrated in three broad interdisciplinary categories, according to Hooper.
“First, select distance learning graduate certificates are being offered to the fleet, both active duty and civilians,” Hooper said. “These overlap with existing NPS offerings in critical areas such as operations analysis, space, and great power competition. Second, NPS faculty are delivering targeted short courses on-site at PACFLT facilities on operationally relevant topics. Finally, flag- and SES-level courses are being delivered on the island as well as via distance learning, with initial topics focused on emerging technologies and strategic development.”
Hooper added that short courses will range from 1 to 5 days and will leverage the dedicated campus at Makalapa, as well as NPS’ new distance learning portal, NPS Online.
NPS Hawaii was created as part of the NPS Fleet Liaison Activity mission, which manages fleet outreach and engagement between NPS and major commands in fleet concentration areas. Similar NPS Fleet Liaison efforts are being explored for other areas, including San Diego and Norfolk, Va., as well as in support of senior leaders in the National Capital Region of Washington, D.C.
According to Capt. Philip Old, who will lead NPS Hawaii as the first NPS Fleet Liaison Officer (LNO) to PACFLT, the new branch campus serves as a testament to the joint effort between PACFLT and NPS in fulfilling the Naval Education Strategy.
“With the establishment of NPS Hawaii, COMPACFLT and NPS are implementing the Secretary of the Navy’s Naval Education Strategy to achieve his vision for naval education – that all Sailors, Marines, and Department of the Navy civilians continuously learn in an integrated, technology-enabled environment to increase our naval forces’ readiness and competitive advantage in all-domain operations,” said Old, who previously served as NPS chief of staff.
Rondeau emphasized the importance of having a formal liaison to PACFLT headquarters, as well as the NPS Fleet Liaison Activity mission in general.
“The duties of the NPS LNO to CPF position encapsulate all of the four main elements of our transformation journey in education, research, innovation and institution,” said Rondeau. “Moving Captain Old to the position as LNO to CPF ensures we have a seasoned leader who knows the INDOPACOM theater well and who has been part of NPS’ transformation.”
Ultimately, the establishment of NPS Hawaii is a move toward further mission alignment, advancement and optimization, as well as responsiveness to the needs of the fleet and force.
The Naval Postgraduate School provides defense-focused graduate education, including classified studies and interdisciplinary research, to advance the operational effectiveness, technological leadership and warfighting advantage of the Naval service. For additional information, visit NPS online at https://nps.edu.