In the summer of 2009, long after “Basic” Mike Gould reported to the Air Force to earn his wings and serve his country, Lieutenant General Michael Gould returned to Colorado Springs to become superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy. A lot has happened in that 37 years. The “doolie” had earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the academy, a Master of Arts in Human Resource Development from Webster University, had completed advanced management programs at the National War College, at Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. In over three decades he had logged more than 3000 hours in the cockpit of the Air Force’s most advanced aircraft, served as Director of Mobility forces for Operation Joint Endeavor, commanded the task force for troop deployment into Darfur Sudan and earned a chest-full of distinguished service medals.
He commanded the 3rd Air Force in Mildenhall, England, the 2nd Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi and personally trained and mentored hundreds of airmen to fly… to fight …. to win for the United States of America. But as much as things changed, as a man’s career advanced and a citizen served his country, one thing with Mike Gould has remained the same; for 37 years he has been dedicated to helping others become leaders. This pilot, turned teacher who ultimately became a leader has enabled those around him to turn potential and promise into reality. His full throttle style of leadership is a testament to empowerment and his students have earned their wings under his wing to become pilots, commanders, soldiers, cadets and global citizens. Lieutenant General Michael Gould is….and always has been a “coach.”
For those who don’t know, “Coach” is Mike Gould’s call sign. A call sign is a nickname given to a pilot by his peers. They say it’s bad luck to pick your own call sign and I’m told most come from a play off of the pilot’s name, a personal characteristic or, sometimes for the unlucky pilot, a call sign is chosen because of a past…not necessarily positive… exploit! The more a pilot complains about a call sign, the better the chance that name will stick! I’m not sure what the pilots who picked Coach’s nickname were thinking at the Falcon Club when his call sign was coined. Perhaps they were referencing his time at his Air Force alma mater when he served as coach for the football and golf teams. Maybe these thought leaders knew the potential of the man we honor tonight and that he might be called back to lead the Academy and be responsible for developing future leaders into men and women of character. I think they must have had the ability to look around the corner to see potential and knew that this decorated pilot who is the father, the son and even the husband of a pilot, was going to do great things.
The late great legendary football coach Eddie Robinson of Grambling State, one of the winningest football coaches of all time , said it better “Leadership, like coaching, is fighting for the hearts and souls of men and getting them to believe in you.” Michael Gould has been fighting for the freedom of others all his life; a life filled with outstanding work and dedication to others. To that we salute you and affirm that “Coach we believe in you”…..
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming back to Webster University the man whose Falcon football team not only beat Navy but also brought home the Commander-in-Chief Trophy early this year; the past football and present leadership coach of the U.S. Air Force Academy and the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology’s 2011 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year…. Lieutenant General Michael Gould.
(Introduction of Lt. General Michael C. Gould, superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy & Webster University 2011 Alumnus of the Year by Dean Benjamin Ola Akande, Wednesday August 24, 2011)