Army to evaluate further before ROTC closures

Amanda Monthei

Following an announcement in October that the program was at risk of termination, the NMU ROTC program was notified on Thursday, Nov. 7 that it would be temporarily removed from the Army’s elimination list.

The decision to remove NMU from the list comes after ROTC officials were notified in mid-October that the program, along with 13 other ROTC programs nationwide, would be cut by the Army. The Army is now allowing the 13 programs to operate for three additional years so that they may be monitored.

However, until they know the criteria used by the Army to select schools placed on the closure list, a professor and officer in the military science department and ROTC program said on Wednesday that they were unsure of what direction they should take.

“(The program) is still moving in a very favorable direction,” Lt. Col. John McLaughlin, professor of military science, said. “But at this stage, as far as waiting to find out what the criteria is, we can’t adjust anything until we know what we need to adjust.”

McLaughlin said he and the rest of the department expect to see the criteria from the Army relatively soon, at which point they can begin preparing for the future — one that will hopefully extends beyond the evaluation process.

The ROTC program will be monitored for what is expected to be three years, according to NMU President David Haynes, at which time decisions will be made in regard to the closure of select programs.

“From the best that we understand, it is a three-year evaluation process or extension for the program,” Haynes said. “During that period, they will be evaluating the program and we will be talking to them about the standards they use and do what we can to meet some of the benchmarking information they give us.”

But despite the pressure being placed on the criteria used to evaluate certain programs, some ROTC officers are looking at possible elimination in a positive light.

“I think the most important part is that it’s like a new life for us,” Lt. Jake Pfiester of enrollment and recruiting said. “It kind of allows us to keep going, keep bringing in new prospects and we’ll continue to commission future officers to the program and show how important this program really is to the college and community.”

Mclaughlin said that bettering the program prior to the evaluation process is of utmost importance at this point, and expects good things from the program in future years.

“From our perspective it’s an opportunity to rectify any deficiencies,” Mclaughlin said. “I anticipate that the program is going to continue to expand. We’re moving in the right trajectory towards that and the cadet performance has been phenomenal at this stage in the academic year. I’m excited to see what the second semester brings us.”

In addition to bettering the program to avoid future elimination, Haynes has said he will be travelling to Washington D.C. to meet with Army officials and to discuss the future of NMU’s ROTC.

“I plan to explore what other options we have to keep the ROTC open,” Haynes said. “(ROTC) is very important to keep for the student experience. If our goal is to have access to students at an affordable price, then I have to say ROTC is part of that equation. I would do the same for any other organizations.”

Still, the prospect of closure has proved frustrating for the program officers and military science department administrators.

“I think there is still an element of frustration not just within the program but with the university at large,” Mclaughlin said. “The criteria that was used for all the universities that were identified for program closure, it has yet to be revealed. But right now the program continues moving in a very favorable direction.”

NMU’s 44-year old ROTC program has graduated over 400 cadets since its inception, with 65 currently enrolled in the program.