Army Officers Return To Duty With Doctorate Degrees


Col. Joseph Funderburke and Col. David Raugh (R)


Research that could shape the U.S. military’s combat readiness in the world theater was the outcome of two high-ranking officers pursuing their doctorates in Security Studies.

U.S. Army Col. Joseph Funderburke and U.S. Army Col. David Raugh were both hooded today during the College of Sciences’ commencement ceremony.

“Dave and Joe have been outstanding students: capable, intelligent, and fun to work with. We have been genuinely thrilled to have them in our program,” said Tom Dolan, Ph.D., graduate coordinator for the Department of Political Science, which hosts the Security Studies program. “They have done first-rate work as researchers and we hope that they will be able to use what they gained from their program as they continue their service in the military.”

Both Funderburke and Raugh were sponsored by the military to pursue their degrees at a civilian university through the U.S. Army Strategic Planning and Policy Program (ASP3). Funderburke’s dissertation investigated how partisan polarization among political elites affects national security decision-making. He discovered that the widening ideological gap between Republicans and Democrats impacts defense budget levels, legislative votes on national security bills and presidential decisions to use force.

“I’m grateful to UCF and the Army for the opportunity to pursue my doctorate. Security Studies, at the graduate level, is a rapidly growing field of study and UCF is leading the way in the country,” Funderburke said. “Coming to UCF is one the better decisions I’ve made in my academic and professional career. The faculty here has been fantastic. They have prepared me to be able to immediately contribute at the strategic level upon my return to the Pentagon.”

Raugh explored the correlation between military institutions and soldiers’ ability to make accurate forecasts. His dissertation revealed that generalist officers are more effective forecasters than specialists, and commanders with more formal education are more effective than commanders with less formal education.

“My journey as a student in the UCF Security Studies Ph.D. program has been extremely rewarding,” Raugh said. “The interactions with skilled professors and fellow students have provided valuable alternative insights into international relations, policy perspectives and security challenges that ultimately make me a better critical thinker.”

The Security Studies program tackles research topics like child soldiering, the prevalence of military coups, the effects of command philosophy on military performance and questions related to food security.

“We are truly proud to have students from the ASP3 program in our Security Studies program, and we are particularly proud to award our first doctoral degrees to members of this distinguished group of students,” said Kerstin Hamann, Ph.D., Pegasus Professor and chair of the Department of Political Science.  “Joe and Dave, together with their fellow members from the ASP3 program, make valuable contributions to our program as they share their insights, experiences, and interests. And we are honored to make a contribution to the military in return by educating some of their most outstanding members.”

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