New partnership brings promise for future business leaders

Commerce – Texas A&M University-Commerce and L-3 Integrated Systems (L-3 IS) have teamed to target the Master of Science in Management program.

The program allows students from business and non-business backgrounds to pursue a master's degree while developing their management skills for application with a leading defense company.

L-3 senior vice president and A&M-Commerce alumnus Jack Cooke will instruct both the Managing at Edge course as well as a class in Active Leadership at the Greenville facility. During a press conference Monday, Cooke expressed his excitement for the program and the opportunity to provide students real world experience in the industry.

"This is our regional university so it should be the crucible in which we do the mixing and prepare those students for jobs and high tech jobs," according to Cooke. "We at L-3 are interested in finding the very best students and finding a path and a pipeline for them into employment."

Just hours after sending a mass email promoting the program, Cooke says he received 110 responses from interested persons. He's expecting to instruct around 20 students this fall.

The opportunity to teach is somewhat a dream come true for Cooke, who initially wanted to become a high school teacher or college professor. 35 years later he's come full circle.

"I grew up in North Carolina and set out to be a high school physics teacher, maybe college physics teacher," says Cooke. "One Sunday afternoon I'm having dinner at my mother's house and I opened the Raleigh News and Observer and there's a job posting for a software engineer and I was tired of being hungry as a graduate student. So I decided, 'Gee, I'll give that a try.'"

Dr. Hal Langford, Dean of the College of Business and Technology says Cooke's methods mesh well with what A&M-Commerce is trying to do with its students all across the area, the state of Texas and the world.

"He will be an asset to everything we do because he will bring real world experience that our students really need to know and understand as they go out into the world and face the challenges; not just in the good times but times like we're facing right now," says Langford. "He's been through those wars he knows what's happening."

Cooke says he's ready to take on those challenges and looks forward to leading groups of hard-working students.

"People who have invested the time and developed the skills generally will do well in competition, even in a shrinking economy," says Cooke. "People who stand out, and have the kind of discipline it takes to get a degree, tend to do well in the world of work."

A&M-Commerce Provost Larry Lemanski also stressed the hands on experience aspect of the program, and the value it holds at the university.

"I think to keep that tradition of excellence of teaching in the classroom but adding this important practical aspect is something that we strive to do," says Lemanski.

President Dan Jones referenced the university's founder, William Leonidas Mayo, and his ability as an innovator to bring vision to the region. Jones feels it's in that realm that made this partnership with L-3 such an important one.

"It's really in that spirit of innovation that we enter into this particular partnership; this new page, but not a new era," says Jones. "It's really a continuation of the values that we hold dear and I know strike to the heart of what L-3 Communications is all about."

The agreement between both sides was almost too big for words.

"What this adds to our academic program in terms of reputation and prestige is really incalculable," says Jones.

He hopes this partnership can serve as a model the university can replicate with other partners in the future.

Vice President for Advancement Randy Van Deven was among the officials excited about Cooke's future service to the university, noting the engineering side of things. Van Deven, a professional engineer, began his career in mining.

Not only does Cooke feel there's ample opportunity for graduate students, but for undergraduate education as well. A&M-Commerce degrees are the number one degree at L-3's Greenville facility, with 250+ employees, according to Cooke.

L-3 IS will partially fund Cooke's new position at the university.

L-3 IS and A&M-Commerce have enjoyed a long relationship as regional neighbors. L-3 has supported the university with donations and grants and A&M-Commerce has assisted L-3 in major industrial engineering and construction projects at their Greenville location.

L-3 Integrated Systems develops and integrates defense and commercial technology for U.S. and allied customers worldwide. Headquartered in Greenville, Texas, L-3 IS has more than five decades of experience in the development of complex intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; command and control; and secure communications.

Headquartered in New York City, L-3 employs over 66,000 people worldwide and is a prime contractor in aircraft modernization and maintenance, C3ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) systems and government services. L-3 is also a leading provider of high technology products, subsystems and systems. The company reported 2008 sales of $14.9 billion.

More information about L-3 is available through the company's website at