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Opinion USM President Optimistic about ROTC Future

USM President Optimistic about ROTC Future

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A message from  Rodney Bennett:

I am excited to share that after four months of uncertainty for our Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program at The University of Southern Mississippi, we received the Army’s new program evaluation criteria, and I am optimistic about our future.

In October, just a month after our cadets excelled at the annual Leadership Development and Assessment Course, we were surprised to receive notification that the Army intended to close our program and 12 others across the country. I reached out to our Congressional delegation, Governor Bryant, local military leaders and alumni for guidance and support, and I am grateful for their efforts to preserve our program.

In November, the Army announced that program closures would be suspended until they conducted a review of their assessment criteria. I traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with Army leaders to advocate for USM’s program. We were told to expect revised criteria by the end of January.

Under the Army’s newly released annual evaluation model, no ROTC programs are currently on probation, and all 275 programs across the country will be evaluated and receive an annual performance report indicating whether their programs are retained or placed on probation and assigned an improvement plan.

The most important criterion is the number of commissioned officers produced by an institution. The Army will also consider whether a program demonstrates “measurable progress,” the ability to meet required production going forward.

Based on past averages of commissioned officers produced, our program may be placed on probation in June 2014. However, our projected numbers of commissioned officers that will be produced in 2014, 2015, and 2016 are on track to exceed required production. I believe that we have a strong chance of avoiding probation due to demonstrating measurable progress – but, even if we are placed on probation this summer, I am confident in our projections that we will be able to come off probation, and stay off, after one year.

We will not have a final decision regarding our status until the end of June, but I am pleased by our progress. Thank you for your continued support and for everything you do for our University. Please keep sending us bright, energetic students interested in joining our ROTC program. With your help, I am confident that USM will continue to produce quality military leaders who serve our country with courage, honor, and integrity.

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