Defense Information School expands to serve more students
By Lisa R. Rhodes
The 90,000-square-feet of additional space is part of a three-phase expansion project, which began last December, at DINFOS.
Lt. Col. William Manley, deputy commandant of DINFOS, said the school is expanding from about 2,700 students annually to about 3,500 students, who will begin to arrive in September.
"The services have told us they want to increase the number of public affairs and visual information specialists," Manley said. "They tell us what their accession goals are, and we meet that training requirement."
The mission of DINFOS is to grow and sustain a corps of professional organization communicators -- public affairs and visual information personnel -- who fulfill the communication needs of the military.
Communication professionals from all service branches are trained at DINFOS, which moved from Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., to Fort Meade in 1998.
When the $45 million project is completed in 2014, the school will be able to accommodate a 30 percent increase in its student population, Manley said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District is overseeing the expansion project. Phase one is ongoing and includes the renovation of classrooms and administrative space in the main building.
The 90 modulars will be located at the site of a now-empty field at the intersection of Taylor Avenue and Simonds Street. The modulars will provide classroom and office space. They will be ready for students and staff at the beginning of January, when the bulk of the new students are expected to arrive, Manley said.
About 315 public affairs leadership students and public affairs journalists and their instructors, along with 110 administrative staff members, will use the new modulars. The school's visual information and broadcast operations and maintenance students will continue to have classes in the main building.
Phase three of the project begins in 2012 and entails adding 80,000 square feet to the main building, Manley said. When the expansion is completed in 2014, all of the school's administrative staff and training will be housed there, and the 90 modulars will be removed.
To accommodate the projected increase in the number of students, DINFOS began hiring more than 80 new instructors and administrative personnel earlier this year.
"We're excited," Manley said. "Hiring new staff makes the school's expansion real. It's the first tangible evidence that we are expanding."
The new instructors will undergo three weeks of training and will shadow senior instructors for six months. Manley said it is hoped the new instructors will complete their training by January to be ready for the influx of new students.
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