By Debbie Gregory.
The Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is the largest officer commissioning source in the country. It provides college and university students with the opportunity to obtain merit-based scholarships that can pay up to the full cost of tuition, in exchange for a military commitment to be completed once their degree is obtained.
As of October 2, the Army has approved the closure of 13 of its ROTC programs. The ROTC programs selected for closure are:
University of South Dakota
Northern Michigan University
North Dakota State University
University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
Arkansas State University
University of Tennessee at Martin
University of North Alabama
Georgia Regents (Augusta State) University
University of Southern Mississippi
East Tennessee State University
Morehead State University
Tennessee Technological University
University of California–Santa Barbara
“The decision to close the 13 ROTC programs is not a reflection on the quality of those academic institutions, or the outstanding officers produced at those schools,” said Karl F. Schneider, acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs). “These closures are necessary changes that allow for more efficient use of available resources within the command, while maintaining a presence in all 50 states. The Army will continue to be good stewards of its resources through prudent transformation of the institutional Army.”
Under Defense Department rules, Army officer training programs are expected to produce an average of 15 officers a year from each school. According to the Army, the programs being closed have been producing fewer than the average officers, and have showed little potential for growth. Although the Army acknowledged that it has granted exceptions to dozens of schools, that is because they met other standards or displayed a potential for growth.
The Army Cadet Command, which oversees the ROTC and its nearly 33,000 students, said that the closing of these 13 underachieving programs will allow the Army to allocate its resources to 56 other markets that have more potential. These markets include bolstering major urban areas such as Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Chicago. Some of the funding will shift to support programs that are already successful, but require more funding in order to expand even further.
The closures are set to take place over the next two years, to be concluded by the end of the Spring, 2015 term. The two year time frame is to allow juniors and seniors currently participating in ROTC at the affected schools to be able to complete their degrees. The Army is offering assistance to freshmen and sophomores in the 13 programs. The Army will help those students to transfer schools or negotiate the possibility of completing their training by cross-enrolling in nearby schools that will retain their ROTC.