ETSU ROTC program to close
Published: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 6, 2013 21:10
ETSU President Brian Noland announced Thursday the U.S. Army’s decision to close the university’s ROTC program, and pledged to fight to keep it open.
ETSU’s ROTC program is one of three in Tennessee and one of 13 across the nation, three of which are in Tennessee, that will close.
The Secretary of the Army announced last week that the phase-out plan will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by August 2015. The decision was made based on a recommendation by the U.S. Army Cadet Command.
Noland said. ETSU has about 54 cadets who are contracted with the Army and approximately 222 ETSU students who are enrolled in the military science program.
“We are devastated,” he said. “We feel this decision is an injustice to our students, to our graduates and to the outstanding men and women who have led this program since it was founded in 1952.”
One of the reasons the Army gave for closing the university’s ROTC program was based on concerns about the number of officers being commissioned from ETSU, Noland said.
“This decision is based on outdated metrics,” he said. “Our program at ETSU commissioned 15 officers in 2013 and we expect to produce comparable numbers for the upcoming year. Looking ahead to 2015, we expect to commission 25 or more officers with our current junior class. Our ROTC enrollment is the largest it has been in the past 25 years.”
When the program ends in two years, junior and senior ROTC students will be able to finish at ETSU and be commissioned as second lieutenants. However, freshmen and sophomores who want to be commissioned upon graduation will have to transfer into ROTC at another university. The only other option is to request to have their contracts with the Army voided.
Noland spoke about the history of the program and introduced Johnny Teague, who represented U.S. Rep. Phil Roe.
“Since we first learned that the Army’s Cadet Command was reviewing ETSU’s ROTC program, I have been working with President Noland to prevent a possible closure of this excellent program,” Roe said in a statement.
Noland said that ETSU hopes to receive more information about the closure and the criteria used for deciding which programs would close.
Though the U.S. Army funds the ROTC program at ETSU, Noland said ETSU provides significant financial support for the program through scholarships, staffing, housing assistance, equipment purchases, facility renovations and travel support. In addition, the university recently made significant improvements to the Veterans Memorial Lawn in front of Brooks Gymnasium, which houses the ROTC program.
“This project further showcases our ROTC program and facilities, which are located at the heart of our campus,” Noland said.
Since the program’s inception at ETSU, the university has commissioned more than 1,400 officers, including nine generals. “We will continue to engage in efforts to vigorously protect and maintain our storied ROTC program at ETSU,” Noland said.