By Elizabeth Pierdominici
The University's Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program was recognized for the excellence performances of several of its members.
The program continues its tradition of "Leadership and Excellence" with the annual mission for commissioning 2nd lieutenants. as future leaders.
The 17 ROTC members have met the requirements to be enlisted to work in the U.S. Army, Army reserve or Army National Guard.
Col. Thomas McCool, commander, 2nd Brigade ROTC, of Fort Dix, N.J., recognized the University's ROTC program on Nov. 18 for its merit. He presented President Stuart Rabinowitz and Lt. Col. James Nickolas, professor of military science, with a baseball bat engraved with the phrase, "Most Valuable Program."
The value of the University's ROTC program was demonstrated when 17 students earned the Gold Bar of Army Second Lieutenant in the last academic year, exceeding its goal of 13 students. Of the 272 Army ROTC programs in the nation, less than half achieve their commission mission each year.
"We are pleased for the turnout of [the program] and for the University," Rabinowitz said. "They do great things and it is great for us and our country to have military leaders who have a liberal arts education and exposure to different cultures."
The University's Thundering Pride ROTC Battalion has been a part of the campus since 1951. The program offers a four-year and a two-year program, basic and advanced courses and an advanced camp where outstanding cadets qualify to earn the Gold Bar for Second Lieutenant. Aside from the liberal arts degree requirements, ROTC students attend military science courses and physical training tests.
"The students are dedicated, just like professional soldiers," McCool said. "Most students take 13 to 16 credits each and go through three to five days of a one-hour training session at 6:30 a.m."
McCool and Nickolas agree the program has evolved into a more "hands-on" approach, integrating classroom learning in the Physical Fitness Center (PFC) with field training. Cadets learn basic leadership skills, and participate in firing range sessions for M-16 training and a Leadership Weekend at Fort Dix, N.J. held each semester.
"There is the physical aspect and the value aspect," McCool said. "Overall, each student practices selfless service."
Whether their uniforms are on or off, ROTC students are expected to display leadership skills and academic excellence in their daily lives.
"Each cadet is a student first," McCool said. "Their leadership skills prepare them to be commissioned to be in charge of a platoon of 30 to 35 other young people. Before that the cadets have a six month training session to qualify as a platoon leader for tactical units that may be in Afghanistan or Iraq."
Cadet Battaliion Commander Christopher Manganaro, a senior business major, can attest that success is attainable.
"The physical and mental tests we constantly go through helps us as students for when we have to do something like write a five page paper," Manganaro said. "It makes those things much easier to accomplish in life."
Manganaro will graduate from the University and embark on a future with the U.S. Army. He will continue training in Aberdeen, Md. upon graduation and plans to be an ammunition and maintenance officer.
"Overall, it has been a good experience," Manganaro said.
Manganaro said cadets spent the weekend in Camp Smith, a training ground for the New York National Guard, located near West Point Military Academy in upstate New York. They will put their endurance and determination to the test while acquiring leadership skills and military tactics. When the cadets return to campus, the PFC will return to its daily routine, making the ROTC program another prestigious entity of the University.