Brig. Gen. Dana Born, the dean of faculty at the Air Force Academy, will step down next summer after 10 years. (Air Force Academy via AP)
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DENVER — A top Air Force Academy commander who helped the school recover from a sexual assault scandal but later came under fire over a mischaracterization of the faculty's credentials is retiring.
Brig. Gen. Dana Born, the dean of faculty, will step down next summer after 10 years, included eight years as dean of faculty, the school's top academic position, the academy said Thursday.
The academy did not say why Born decided to retire, and she didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The academy, located outside Colorado Springs, has about 4,000 students. Born graduated from the school in 1983, was awarded a doctorate in psychology at Penn State in 1994 and, after a variety of military assignments, returned to the Air Force Academy as a psychology professor in 2002.
When a sexual assault scandal shook the academy the next year, Born was chosen to run its sex-assault prevention program. In 2004 she was promoted to dean of the faculty amid a leadership shake-up because of the scandal.
Nearly 150 women came forward in 2003 to say they had been assaulted by fellow cadets, with many alleging that they were punished, ignored or ostracized by commanders when they spoke out.
Born handled the prevention program and other initiatives with "leadership, enthusiasm and vision," the school's current superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, said in a written statement.
Gould also praised Born for initiating cadet training programs in drones and cyber defense, designing the academy's strategic plan and leading the re-accreditation process.
In February of this year, Air Force investigators said Born was negligent when she told a Colorado Springs weekly newspaper that all academy instructors had graduate degrees in the areas they teach or in related areas. The investigators also said they found no evidence that academy faculty aren't qualified.
Born did not publicly comment on the findings and the academy has never said what action, if any, it took against her, citing privacy rules.
Born's infractions were only technical, said William "T" Thompson, chief executive officer of the Association of Graduates, the academy's alumni organization.
"As a practical matter, she did nothing wrong," said Thompson, a 1973 academy graduate.
Thompson praised Born for preparing academy cadets for Air Force careers, citing the training programs in piloting drone aircraft and in cyber defense.
The military can be slow to change, Thompson said. "To have somebody who's pushing the cutting edge ... is fairly notable," he said.
Jeff Dyche, a former associate professor of psychology at the Air Force Academy, said Born seemed to be "over her head" on some academic matters, such as faculty qualifications, because she had limited experience in academia.
"I think she did the best she could with the cards that were dealt to her," said Dyche, a Navy veteran who is now an associate professor of psychology at James Madison University in Virginia.
Born handled the end of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians well, said Tricia Heller, executive director of the Blue Alliance, an association of lesbian and gay academy graduates.
"She has been completely open, very professional, very approachable, very friendly," Heller said.