Lt. Gen. Michael Gould plans to leave his mark on the Air Force Academy.
As the commander who’s been at the post since June, Gould is overseeing the Academy’s most extensive renovation since it was built in the 1950s. Nearly every building needs an upgrade, as do the academy’s practice planes.
“It’s crazy. We’re flying tankers that are 50 years old, but they are still flying,” he said. “And every building, Vanderberg Hall was built in 1958 and the chapel was built at the same time. It’s all coming due.”
And a $1 billion “fix USAFA” program will include a leadership hall with an architectural feature pointing to Polaris, the North Star.
“It will be used for things beyond the honor board, education, character development programs and time management, military training — even athletics,” he said. “So cadets will know it points to the North Star and they will not waver.”
Gould, who is married and has two sons — both of whom are in the Air Force — said his latest assignment is challenging, but was a lot like “coming home.”
“I went to the Academy,” he said. “And we’ve done assignments here. So Colorado Springs is home, and we certainly intend to make this our home.”
It isn’t his first time at the academy. He served as a graduate assistant football coach immediately after graduation, and then served as a physical education instructor, assistant men’s golf coach, prep-school football coach and T-41 instructor pilot.
Gould earned his commission during 1976 and has commanded everything from an operations group to the Cheyenne Mountain Operations System. He has done three tours at U.S. Air Force headquarters and served as the Air Force aide to the President. He also served as the Director of Mobility Forces for Operation Joint Endeavor.
Gould was director of operations and plans for the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base before coming to the Air Force Academy.
He received a distinguished service medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, a Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, anAir Force Commendation Medal, an Achievement Medal and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
He plans to make the Air Force Academy an even more valuable member of the Colorado Springs community.
“We have a world class facility here,” he said. “We are one of the top universities in the country, yet we’re seldom utilized by anyone in the community. We could partner with businesses, create technology transfers — and we should be doing that.”
Increasing the Academy’s profile in Colorado Springs is one of Gould’s goals. He foresees Academy information and memorabilia in malls, downtown and on the eastern plains.
“If you don’t come north of the city, you don’t know we’re here,” he said. “And we have got to change that — we need to become a better partner — both with business and with the community.”
With more than 3,000 flight hours, one might think Gould would feel “grounded” at the Air Force Academy. Instead, he says he is proud to help shape the next round of United States military leaders.
“These are the nation’s finest group of young people,” he said. “They come from all over the country, and they are here to learn and to strive to do their best. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
The Air Force Academy has 4,400 students, the largest class in recent years. He said more than 10,000 high school graduates applied for attendance.
“We want to share the academy’s excellence,” he said. “We need to offer this community resource to graduate students, to businesses. And that burden — to get the word out there, is on us.”