When the nation’s largest military base changed its name to Fort Liberty in June, it meant change for an important part of Campbell University for the past 47 years.
Campbell’s Fort Liberty & Pope campus — part of the University’s Adult & Online Education program — offers bachelor and associate programs for active duty, civilian and veteran students and is a big reason Campbell is consistently named a Military Friendly school. The new title went into effect on June 2.
Preparing for the name change was a lengthy process for University officials, according to Nicole Winget, currently the interim dean of Adult & Online Education and formerly the assistant dean of student life and support. Winget said her staff knew a change was coming for almost a year (even though a new name had yet to be chosen). The change affected much more than signage — from changes to the website to changing codes for billing purposes.
“We had to notify the Department of Education, Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs; everybody from communications and marketing to financial aid, accounting to recruitment to IT, they have all been engaged with me on this for months,” Winget said. “There’s a lot more to it than a simple name change, and I think the transition was executed wonderfully.”
Campbell launched the then-Fort Bragg campus in 1976, roughly eight years after President Norman A. Wiggins started the University’s renowned ROTC program. It was the first of Campbell’s remote campuses (they’re now found in Raleigh and Camp Lejeune as well), and today, nearly all of Fort Liberty’s students are affiliated with the military, most of them active duty. The campus is heavily focused on undergraduate programs, the largest being the Bachelor of Health Science degree which is designed to train active duty medics interested in pursuing a physician assistant or medical graduate degree.
As for the name change, while the transition was time consuming, Winget said the campus name change was the right thing to do to maintain a strong connection with the base — the base was one of nine across the country that approved a change. Fort Liberty was the only one of those nine that did not choose another name for the base, instead opting for a patriotic word promoting freedom.
“There was some contention over the name as it was not a specific service member’s name that was chosen, but it was shared with me that Gold Star families were very involved in the decision,” she said. “It might not be the sole reason, but the families’ position was it needed to be Liberty, because there are just so many heroes who have fallen and would be deserving of that honor. If you pick one or two, you’re going to miss 10 or 15 more. From that perspective, it hits you in the heart.
As interim dean of Adult & Online Education (a role that began this summer with the retirement of Dr. Beth Rubin), Winget splits her time between Campbell’s main campus and all the Adult and Online campuses.
“I can’t speak highly enough of our Adult and Online team,” she said. “Because of them, we are able to serve students who cannot attend a traditional college campus format. Their work ensures that our military members can earn degrees that are relevant and help them progress.
To learn more about Campbell’s Fort Liberty & Pope campus, as well as its other extended campuses and Adult & Online Education program, visit aoe.campbell.edu.