CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Army Pfc. Edward Silvers could be a poster child for Warrior University — the 2nd Infantry Division’s new program that allows soldiers to get off work early two afternoons each week to attend college classes.

Silvers had planned to take college courses, but when the 3 p.m. classes were made available there was no reason to wait longer.

“I was inspired by that because it seemed like I would have enough time,” he said.

So he signed up for an art appreciation class last semester to gauge exactly how much time he could devote to his studies, with an eye toward enrolling in more “academic classes” in future as he works toward a business degree.

“If I can do it, most other soldiers can do it as well,” he said, predicting that enrollment would increase when the second semester of Warrior University gets under way next week.

That will be a mixed blessing for James Campbell — education services officer for Area I, the northernmost sector of South Korea — who had to scramble to get the professors needed to teach the increased numbers of students who enrolled for the first semester of Warrior University when it started in January.

“The concern I have right now is that if it keeps growing, we may have some classroom problems as well as instructional problems,” he said last month. “So, I am beginning to look around to see places where we might hold classes other than the Educational Center.”

Campbell said that in Area I, home to most of 2nd ID’s 10,000 soldiers, 87 were taking college classes for the semester that began in January 2009. When Warrior University started, he said, close to 500 soldiers took classes during the first semester of 2010.

Campbell said that increase was not entirely linked to the attendance in the newly created afternoon classes, but to increases in the enrollment in night and weekend classes as well.

“Because of the emphasis that has been put on education, period, all of our classes ... are doing better than they have in the past,” he said.

Campbell said he welcomes the extra work.

“It’s a bit more work, but it is a little more enjoyable too,” he said. “When you are running a program, and you are really scratching to get students like we have had to do in previous terms, you begin to feel that you are not understood or appreciated for what you are doing.

“But, if you are running a program and you seem to be overwhelmed, then you know that you are touching somebody.”

Warrior University is the brainchild of Maj. Gen. Michael Tucker, 2nd ID commander, who modeled the program after similar ones he launched at two previous stops in his military career. He said the goal of Warrior University is to give soldiers a taste of college in hopes it will make them more goal-oriented and prompt them to make better use of their free time.

Pfc. Michael Monroe took two classes during the first semester of Warrior University and he, too, expects there to be more students in class in future semesters.

“I was going to go to class anyway, but getting the afternoons off made it a lot easier,” he said.

Spc. Josephine Brown said her superiors have been very supportive of her knocking off early to attend classes.

“I think it’s really good for soldiers to go to school,” she said.

Pfc. Alfred Hermitt has taken college classes for three semesters. He said Warrior University has gotten the attention of his fellow soldiers at Camp Stanley and he expected as many as 30 of them to be enrolled when the second semester of the program got under way.

“The person who came up with this idea is a very smart person because that’s a person who is thinking about soldiers,” Hermitt said.

“Those who sit around and spend most of their time going to juicy bars, they could be studying,” he said. “I think a soldier should be educated because you never know when you’ll be leaving the system ... and they should be prepared to go out and make themselves marketable.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now