WMU News

Former airline exec named dean of aviation college

June 24, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- A former United Airlines executive has been named dean of Western Michigan University's College of Aviation.

Rick Maloney, who retired earlier this year as United's vice president for flight operations and system chief pilot, will take the reins of WMU's celebrated aviation programs July 15. The college is located in nearby Battle Creek, Mich., at W.K. Kellogg Airport.

Maloney brings more than 30 years of flight management experience to the task of running the College of Aviation, which has nearly 1,000 students enrolled in three degree program and offers an accelerated pilot training course designed to educate pilots for both U.S. and international airlines.

"The qualities that Capt. Maloney brings to the table are precisely those traits that will continue to move the College of Aviation forward," says Dr. Judith I. Bailey, president of WMU. "This high-profile college plays an incredibly important role, both as an example of the caliber of programs for which our University is known and as a critical element in a community partnership we value highly."

Already familiar with the area and WMU's aviation programs, Maloney has been working for the past several months with Battle Creek Unlimited, that city's economic development agency and a longtime partner with the University in fostering economic growth that revolves around aviation business and education. WMU's College of Aviation is at the center of one of Michigan's 11 SmartZones. Those economic development areas that have been set up to spur economic development and cooperation between the state's universities and its business community.

"Capt. Maloney is well versed about every aspect of our programs and is already working to put his experience to work on behalf of our college," says Dr. Daniel M. Litynski, WMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. "He brings the perspective of the industry our students are headed for after they graduate. The college and community can only benefit from being able to draw on his insights, and I am looking forward to seeing his ideas and energy put into action, as he develops a business and academic plan that is both competitive and responsive to the needs of industry."

Maloney is a 1974 graduate of National University in San Diego, and he earned an MBA with an emphasis in aviation management from Newport University in 1982. He began his aviation

career in 1972 as director of operations and chief pilot for Pacific Air Taxi. He went on to hold a series of positions of increasing responsibility with such firms as By Air Corp., Caribbean Air Services and Pacific East Air Inc., before beginning his career with United in 1979 as a line pilot and captain.

Maloney became United's flight manager in 1996, and was promoted to chief pilot in 1997. In 1999, he became vice president for flight operations and the United system's chief pilot. In that capacity, he was responsible for 10,500 line pilots and operation of nine flight centers. He also provided direction for the airline's pilot hiring program and was responsible for 1,200 specialized employees who worked in flight dispatch, meteorology, and crew scheduling and air traffic control.

During his career, Maloney also was active as a consultant and taught aviation management at San Jose State University.

"At United, I hired WMU aviation graduates and worked with interns in the program over the years," says Maloney, "but it was the college's 'ab initio' training that really caught my eye in the late 1990s, when many of us in the major airlines began to look toward the future and realized we would soon run out of qualified applicants to hire.

"I looked into Western's program and discovered that it is a school that has just incredible potential to become the aviation school of choice. While there are significant challenges now in the industry, there is still a real market for the kind of aviation professionals this school can produce."

WMU's "ab initio," or "from the beginning," curriculum is a European-style, flight-training regimen that takes students with no previous flight experience through a complete program and prepares them for employment as first officers on commercial airlines. WMU began incorporating ab initio training into its undergraduate program in 1994 when it redesigned its curriculum to meet what representatives of the U.S. aviation industry said were the industry's most pressing needs. The University is the only training program in the world approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to provide such ab initio training in accordance with FAA regulations. WMU also has the approval of the FAA's European Equivalent, the Joint Aviation Authorities, and has provided contract JAA training for Aer Lingus, British Airways and Emirates Airlines.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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