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Smith to Educate 600 U.S. Customs & Border Protection Leaders

Jun 03, 2014
Top News


COLLEGE PARK, Md.  — Starting this summer, the  University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, Office of Executive Programs, will direct the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Leadership Institute. 

Under the $7.2 million, five-year agreement, Smith will educate up to 120 top-level managers each year for a total enrollment of 600. Courses will encompass strategic thinking, leadership communication, and business management to prepare them for increased levels of responsibility in CBP. 

“As Homeland Security’s largest law enforcement agency, Customs and Border Protection and its leaders are preparing for an increasingly volatile and uncertain environment,” said Joe Thomas, Ph.D., Smith’s academic director for the Leadership Institute, and a senior faculty member in Smith’s advanced executive coaching program. 

Customs and Border Protection’s 60,000 employees manage, control and protect the nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is responsible for protecting more than 5,000 miles of border with Canada, 1,900 miles of border with Mexico, and 95,000 miles of shoreline. 

“Smith has the practical focus, strategic leadership expertise, and management skills to help CBP execute its mission,” said Liz Barron, senior director of custom programs for Smith’s Office of Executive Programs. “CBP deals every day with more than one million people—most of them behaving within the law, but some who are a real danger to field officers and our nation. Smith is proud to be able to help these public leaders shape the agency for an age when immigration, terrorism, money-laundering, cyber intellectual property crimes, and human trafficking are persistent and fast-changing challenges.” 

Customs and Border Protection secures the Nation’s border from illegal entry of individuals and contraband, including terrorist and weapons of mass destruction, while welcoming all legitimate travelers and trade.  In addition, CBP has been entrusted with enforcing hundreds of laws for other government agencies. 

“When the collection of import duties, enforcing U.S. trade laws, and regulating and facilitating international trade are added to the mix, the scope of responsibilities of Customs and Border Protection professionals is simply incredible,” Thomas said. “These expansive missions in the face of constrained resources require adaptable and resilient leaders capable of creating and maintaining a true learning organization.” 

Thomas, a retired U.S. Marines lieutenant colonel, also teaches leadership education for the U.S. Naval Academy. 

In addition to Thomas and Barron, other CBP Leadership Institute faculty will include Smith professors who power the school’s No. 17 executive MBA ranking by Businessweek. 

“The Smith School is honored to serve the people and government of the United States by administering the CBP Leadership Institute,” said Gary Cohen, Smith’s assistant dean of executive programs. 

He said Smith’s connections from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, will help the school meet the needs of government leaders in the program.

Thomas said the institute’s impact will be far-reaching. “Border Patrol agents between the ports of entry and CBP officers at our nation's ports of entry deserve leaders who create a climate of respect and empowerment,” he said. “The mission and people demand nothing less.”

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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