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March 17, 2003
ROTC program builds leaders
By Jessica Stark

Ohio University's Army ROTC program has been nationally recognized for its excellence in developing students into future leaders. The program is ranked 30th nationwide and first among colleges and universities in Ohio in the latest annual rating of overall quality published by the U.S Army's Cadet Command, Fort Monroe, Va.

The University's program includes 55 cadets and 20 participating students. The participating students take the military science classes without incurring any military obligation and then can request to become a cadet if they meet the qualifications.

quoteThe program's quality is reflected in the type of students it attracts. "The typical students who participate in our ROTC program have exceptional character and are very well-rounded individuals with interests in a number of areas," says Lt. Col. Douglas Orr, professor of military science and commander of the Ohio University Army ROTC Bobcat Battalion.

High quality students yield high quality officers, he says. "We're more focused on refining and polishing these future leaders," Orr says. "It's our intent to take good people and challenge them to reach their potential."

Cadets and students in the program are given many opportunities to hone their leadership skills. "To use an athletic analogy, the professors are like coaches and the students in the third and fourth years of the program are like team captains," Orr says. "Through their ROTC experience, they learn how to lead and inspire others."

Cadets gain field experience through leadership labs held once a week. The labs provide them with a chance to learn how to become both more effective leaders and team players. The program also emphasizes academic success, says cadet Matthew Hunter.

"Being involved in ROTC has made me a better student by teaching me how to budget my time and approach my work in a disciplined manner," says Hunter, a senior political science major.

Upon high school graduation, Hunter considered a career in the armed forces, eventually choosing the ROTC program because it fit his plans to also attend college.

"We're still students, but we just wake up a little earlier than most," Hunter says, referring to the three physical training exercises held per week. "I've met a lot of friends through my participation in ROTC and have found time for the recreational and social activities of any college student. Again, it all comes down to discipline."

Many professional opportunities await ROTC students upon graduation. There are 16 branches of the military from which to choose. For example, this year's graduating seniors will enter a wide variety of Army career fields such as Armor, Infantry, Military Intelligence, Signal (Communications) and Transportation.

After military service, there are further career paths. "Many corporations actively recruit military personnel for leadership positions because of the training and background they have. Being responsible for the well being of 30 of your comrades is pretty good preparation for a job in personnel management," Orr notes.

Since its debut in 1936, the program has gained national acclaim. Last year, it placed second in Ohio and 62nd nationwide. Orr has even higher goals. "We want to sustain a high quality of program and try to move into the top 10 percent of the nation in ranking," he says.

Jessica Stark is a student writer for University Communications and Marketing


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