K. Douglas Beakes is eminently distinguished in the field of adult and continuing education, serving students for 38 years, 23 of which he served as the Chief of Education Services of the Headquarters of the United States Air Force, Europe (USAFE).
In 1950, only 44 percent of USAF officers had a baccalaureate degree. In 1962, it was required that all new incoming officers must have a four-year college degree. This rapidly changed the profile of the officers to a more highly educated body that sought an opportunity for graduate work in Europe.
Beakes became a veritable missionary in the successful efforts to persuade more colleges and universities to project their institutions thousands of miles to locations where communications were often difficult. This expansion included the continuation of the strong academic standards required by regional accreditation agencies. Beakes’ focus was on providing opportunities to all military personnel, not just those concentrated on large installations. He provided educational opportunities for very small numbers of military students stationed at underground missile silos and remote communications sites through the use of video courses and specialized teaching machines. While his focus was on individuals, at the same time he paired this focus with the needs of the Air Force.
Over the years, Beakes broadened the opportunities by adding 25 additional institutions offering programs including high school diplomas, two-year associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees, and graduate degree programs including those at the doctoral level. Benefitting from his efforts were the hundreds of thousands of service men and women and civilians serving on U.S. Air Force bases in Europe and the Middle East who enrolled in USAFE educational programs. He wanted to move away from “one shoe fits all education and training” to produce individuals ready to perform in an increasing number and variety of specialties. The results were increased student morale and individuals better qualified to meet the challenges posed by the modern military.
Within academia, Beakes has been especially involved in language education. While serving as an Air Force Education Specialist, early in his career in Morocco, he wrote and conducted French language lessons over Moroccan radio. He also wrote, published, and distributed a beginner’s course in French (texts, workbooks, and tapes) that was used for independent study and he authored a book on Moroccan Arabic. His interest and ability in language education was recognized by the Air Force. When the Air Force Chief of Staff determined that all Air Force officers should learn a foreign language, Beakes was asked to write the policy directive for the Chief to implement the program.
Beakes’ greatest contribution to the field was pioneering the offering of graduate degrees including on-site doctoral programs at U.S. Air Force installations in Europe. The programs thrived, building morale and a more educated officer corps and meeting accrediting agency standards.
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