403rd U: professional development council molds future leaders Published Jan. 27, 2022 By Lt. Col. Marnee A. C. Losurdo 403rd Wing Public Affairs KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 403rd Wing has a new initiative underway to further enhance, educate, and develop its workforce and create professional leaders. It’s called the “403rd University” and it is a professional development council to help Airmen and civilians reach personal and professional goals and assist commanders by providing career enhancement support through courses, seminars and other events to enhance leadership, management, and supervisory skills. The program is modeled after the 81st Training Wing’s Professional Development Center and Total Force Development Council, which offers a variety of professional development courses, such as bullet writing, leadership, and financial investing, to all total force members at Keesler Air Force Base, said Maj. Linda McCullough, 403rd Wing executive officer and one of the driving forces behind the 403rd U’s creation. “The courses the 81st TRW PDC offers during the week are exceptional; however, our traditional reserve members don’t always have access to those courses due to their civilian jobs or schooling,” said McCullough, who has attended several of them. “This is our way of ensuring that all our wing members have the opportunities and access to professional development. Some of our focus areas are mentorship, training and personal and professional growth.” “Becoming a better Airman and leader is a continuous educational process and the 403rd Wing University provides our Airmen and civilians with the professional development opportunities to develop the skill sets and tools required to take care of their wingmen, themselves and their families,” said Chief Master Sgt. Barbara J. Gilmore, 403rd Wing command chief. The 403rd U plans to offer courses that focus on the mental health, spiritual wellness, physical fitness and healthy social networks that form the foundations of Comprehensive Airman Fitness to help Airmen, family members and Air Force civilians stay healthy so they can be more resilient to face common challenges associated with military service, said McCullough. Additionally, the wing’s PDC plans to offer speed mentoring, career coaching, leadership panels, teambuilding events for units, a book club, and courses that focus on financial management as well as supplemental professional military education such as a first term officer course, flight commander/leader course, and professional enhancement seminars for junior enlisted, NCO and Senior NCOs. There will be multiple courses offered by multiple instructors, and they are open to all Airmen, said McCullough, who is one of the professors and added that she is utilizing her educational degree and ROTC instructor experience to help others in the wing. The courses are now available for members to sign up to attend. Eventually, there will be a SharePoint site with course information where members can register, said McCullough. “The 403rd University will have an awards ceremony next year to award degrees to its students who complete the required curriculum and courses as well as recognize the wing members who volunteered to serve as professors for their support and unit commanders who have the most members enrolled,” she said. As the 403rd University grows, McCullough said they encourage members to share their ideas and provide feedback. “This is the wing’s council, so whatever works best for the 403rd Wing to make our members the best they can be personally and professionally, that’s how we will shape this council,” she said. For more information or questions concerning upcoming classes, contact McCullough at 228-377-3440.