CCAF finalizes education partnership with Stillman College, first HBCU in GEM Program

  • Published
  • By Billy Blankenship
  • Air University Public Affairs

The Community College of the Air Force at Air University and Stillman College signed a partnership recently allowing the north Alabama school to offer online general education courses to Airmen pursuing their CCAF associate degree.

Stillman, located in Tuscaloosa, is the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities to sign up with CCAF’s General Education Mobile Program.  

The GEM Program allows CCAF students to enroll in partnering civilian academic institutions to fulfil general education course requirements needed for associate in applied science degrees.

“Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has created for education, the push to move courses online helped Stillman College meet requirements to become a GEM partner, and we are really excited to partner with them,” said Lt. Col. Melanie Presuto, CCAF commandant. “Adding courses from Stillman College to the growing list of over 2,192 approved GEM courses increases choice and diversity of partnerships to elevate the enlisted profession. The associate of applied science degree from CCAF supports recruiting, retention, career transition efforts and mission capability and readiness.”

Partnering institutions offer the courses through distance learning, reducing the educational interruptions of deployments, permanent-change-of-station moves and family commitments. Students contact the GEM partnering school directly to enroll in general education courses, delivered via Air Force Virtual Education Center.

“At Stillman College, we are deeply honored to be the first HBCU to partner with Air University as part of the CCAF GEM program,” said Dr. Mark McCormick, Stillman provost and vice president of academic affairs. “Stillman College is constantly looking for new avenues to provide educational opportunities to traditional and non-traditional students. It seems a natural fit to partner with the CCAF GEM program to fulfill the need for general education classes.”

The average graduation time of a student enrolled in the CCAF degree program is eight years, with general education courses often being the last requirement fulfilled. The GEM program aims to reduce that time by half by simplifying course selections through AFVEC.

“Adding additional partners to the GEM Program increases student course selection and registration, all accessed in one place, which helps,” Presuto said. “Providing these courses in an anytime, anywhere online format facilitates student planning across entire general education curriculum, and motivates students to complete courses on a self-paced timeline. Partnering with colleges in the community builds trust and relationships and enhances many initiatives from collaboration to community service and outreach.”

For more information about the GEM program, visit