U.S. Army to close NDSU ROTC program
North Dakota State University has received notice that the United States Army Cadet Command will close NDSU’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corp, or ROTC, program. The closure will be effective at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.
“This action is a not a reflection of either the quality of your program or the outstanding cadets you have produced,” states a letter from Thomas R. Lamont, assistant secretary of the Army. “The Army arrived at this difficult decision after careful consideration of how to best accomplish its mission with a reduction of resources.”
According to the letter, addressed to NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani, the Army Cadet Command is closing 13 of 273 ROTC programs nationwide.
“It is profoundly disappointing that one of the top performing programs in the Midwest is being eliminated,” Bresciani said.
NDSU’s ROTC program has 72 cadets enrolled through the Tri-College University, which includes NDSU, Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead. The group is known as the Bison Battalion.
The last two years, more than 30 percent of NDSU’s cadets have earned the distinguished military graduate honor, which means they are in the top 20 percent of Army ROTC cadets in the nation. The program has two cadets who are expected to graduate in the top 5 percent.
In Operation Warrior Forge 2013, the U.S. Army Cadet Command Leader Development and Assessment Course for juniors, 43 percent of NDSU’s cadets achieved excellence ratings. The national average is 22 percent. NDSU’s cadets exceeded the national average in every event.
In April, NDSU’s ROTC program won the title of Best Battalion in the 2013 Ranger Buddy Competition. Thirty-nine universities from 14 states brought 183 teams to the national military competition.
Classes will continue to be offered through May 2015 for students enrolled in the ROTC program. Thirty-three of the 72 students enrolled are expected to graduate and to be commissioned by the time the program is discontinued.
The remaining 39 cadets have the option to transfer to another program. The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks has an Army ROTC program that will remain open. Minnesota has programs at Minnesota State University, Mankato, St. John’s University and the University of Minnesota.
“As that date approaches, ROTC staff will work diligently to make alternate plans for students and scholarship recipients,” said Lt. Col. Ted Preister, professor of military science at NDSU.
One of the stipulations of ROTC contracts and scholarships is that if the Army terminates the enrollment of cadets for reasons not related to academics or performance, the students are not obligated to repay any benefits they have received.
The program has six Army employees who will have the option to be transferred to other locations. The program also has one full-time NDSU employee as well as a half-time employee shared with Air Force ROTC.
NDSU Human Resources helps employees affected by reduction in force. Services from Human Resources include resume assistance and notifying NDSU departments that the employees are seeking employment.
NDSU, originally named the North Dakota Agricultural College, first offered military instruction in 1892 as part of its land-grant mission. The university was authorized a Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1917, but could not implement the program because most active duty officers serving in ROTC units were recalled to their combat units for World War I. The program was implemented in 1920.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.