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"It should be the aim of Syracuse University to maintain one or more units of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) in order that in time of national emergency there may be a sufficient number of educated men, trained in Military Science and Tactics, to officer and lead intelligently the units of the large armies upon which the safety of the country will depend."|
Major Sidney F. Mashbir, the first ROTC commander at Syracuse University, wrote these words in 1919 to announce the U.S. War Department's reorganization of SU's Student Army Training Corps, which had been activated the year before. The ROTC unit became a permanent military department, with the original class of 120 cadets receiving infantry training.
For 80 years, ROTC at SU has fulfilled Mashbir's mission, training thousands of military officers for service to their country. Today, there are two ROTC Corps of Cadets at Syracuse University, Army and Air Force. They train both women and men to take leadership positions in military careers and in civilian life. "There is a benefit to the United States and to the United States Armed Forces to have officers trained in civilian/secular institutions around the country, as opposed to training all military officers in select all-military institutions," says Ronald Cavanagh, SU's vice president for undergraduate studies, whose office oversees the ROTC program. "I think it makes for a breadth of thought and perspective that is far greater than what could conceivably be achieved at one, two, or three national military institutions. I think the people of the United States are well served by the program. Syracuse University trained more Army/Air Force officers during World War II than any other institution in the United States."
The University also benefits greatly from having an ROTC presence on campus, according to Cavanagh. "It gives our students an opportunity to look at the military as a career," he says. "It's a chance for our student body to engage in conversation with folks considering the military as well as the highly educated military officers that serve as military science professors at Syracuse."
According to Lt. Col. Ray Eldridge, professor of military science and commander of the Army ROTC at SU, his branch of service gets 75 percent of its officers through ROTC training. "It's becoming an even more important avenue for the Army in training its officers," Eldridge says. "Only about 25 percent of Army officers come from military academies. That's significant for the Army, because it's one way we keep ties with the civilian population we support. We're a volunteer army and there are fewer and fewer in each generation who have military experience. This is one way to bring in officers that come from more than 300 colleges with thoughts, values, and diversity of the civilian population."
Col. Eugene Famulare is commander of the Air Force ROTC detachment at SU, which this year had its largest graduating class in nine years, commissioning 16 officers as second lieutenants. He sees the ROTC as an excellent opportunity for young people to get a degree and to serve their country. "If students are interested in serving their country and are interested in what is virtually a guaranteed job after graduation, we offer the opportunity to pursue a degree and a commission in the Air Force," Famulare says.
Various types of merit scholarships are available through ROTC, or students can opt to attend on a non-scholarship basis. "SU is one of the more generous universities when it comes to supporting ROTC," Famulare says. "From the financial aspect, they offer every Air Force and Army ROTC scholarship winner a $6,000 grant. The University works hard to make us feel at home here and they help us attract quality students to come and join our program."
"We do provide students with stipends and it represents a response from the University to the amount of money the government invests in the program here at SU," Cavanagh says. "We think the government is making a significant investment, which makes it possible for a number of students to come here who could not otherwise consider Syracuse at all."
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