Naval Education and Training Command's Senior Enlisted Academy celebrated the expansion of Tomich Hall and change of charge during a ceremony April 12.
Master Chief Jason Avin was relieved by Master Chief Baron Randle as the 22nd director of the SEA in the newly renovated Tomich Hall, SEA’s auditorium that educates senior enlisted leaders to improve their management and leadership skills, and national security knowledge.
The $1.77 million renovation was completed on April 1, which also happens to mark the day the chief petty officer rank was established in 1893.
The nine-month renovation project was initiated to accommodate an increase of class size for a total of 162 students per class and graduate 1,782 students annually in order to meet the demand of the Navy’s senior enlisted promotion eligibility requirement to master chief petty officer. With the expanded class size SEA will also be increasing faculty advisors to support the larger class size.
Faculty Advisor, Master Chief Information Systems Technician Tiffany Laitola, noted that allowing more students to attend the Navy SEA will help align our Chief's Mess with current leadership philosophies, Navy initiatives, and relevant programs necessary to fight and win today.
“Our staff ensures SEA graduates return to the fleet more prepared to build inclusive teams, work collaboratively, and leverage diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets to improve warfighting capacity and readiness,” said Laitola. “By expanding the auditorium, it allows more senior enlisted leaders to have access to this leadership education and better supports our operational commanders.
The SEA hasn’t stopped class sessions and was the only service academy to continue class iterations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes have been virtual to ensure there were no interruptions meeting SEA’s mission of educating the Navy’s senior enlisted personnel. It is unknown currently when in-person classes will begin but are optimistic as personnel are getting vaccinated and a steady decline of infections.
"The greatest part of the SEA experience is coming together and networking,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith, during his remarks as the guest speaker during the ceremony. “What is the lifeblood of this place is a lot of what we learn, but really it's the coming together and the networking because what it means to be a Chief is that we're better than the sum of our parts. It's been really hard to do that amidst COVID which has had a profound effect not just on the students who come here and network but on all of us all of us are looking forward to getting back to seeing 162 students in class."
The SEA is the Navy’s professional military education institution dedicated to senior enlisted personnel and continues to expand, improve, and modernize curriculum to meet the needs of the fleet to foster leaders who share a deep commitment to each other in the relentless pursuit of decisive military victory.
MCCS Stacee McCarroll
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