When people think of Dick DeVos, they often think of him in terms of his success as a CEO or as the husband of the education secretary Betsy Devos. What many do not quite realize is that he has interests outside of his professional work.
Because of his interest in aviation and flying his personal aircraft, he decided to open the West Michigan Aviation Academy. The mission of the school was to bring high-quality aviation centered education to the public. Unlock every other Aviation School in the country, the West Michigan Aviation Academy operates employee tuition-free. This means that any student who is eligible for public education the state of Michigan can apply and be accepted for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.
Initially, critics were unsure about a business person’s ability to run a school. They insisted that he did not have the breadth of experience required to be a proper founder and leader. What critics did not anticipate on is the level of humility he has shown as a founder and leader.
Like any good business leader, a CEO knows how to hire the best people. The West Michigan Aviation Academy is no different; rather than being domineering and taking control of the entire process Dick Devos make sure to hire several prominent individuals in their fields to become deans of their respective expertise.
In a normal brick-and-mortar school, there is only one principal. This can be true and very extreme circumstances; schools with thousands of students still only have the one principle and no dean of a specific discipline. While this isn’t the case for many schools, the level of talent is spread very thin across several fields. At the West Michigan Aviation Academy, there are three Dean’s each responsible for a different discipline. This is true even though they’re only 500 students; there is simply more mentorship at every level of the organization.
Finally, but many do not realize is that Dick isn’t even the CEO of the organization. While he maintains a board member position and has the great influence over how things are run, day-to-day operation is left to Patrick J. Cwayna, an educator with over 40 years of experience. Once again we can see business strategy being used to better education; there’s always a right person for the job, and when a founder can leave his ego at the door and make the right hire then the customer (In this case the students) are much better off.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about.