ROTC Returns to CUNY

After a four-decade absence, the Army Senior Reserve Officers Training Corps is returning to City College, which will serve as The City University of New York headquarters for the new University-wide ROTC program, offering rigorous academics and training for leadership in the armed services to students from all CUNY campuses.

Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein launched the program at the college’s historic Great Hall in a special signing ceremony that included former U.S. Secretary of State and retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, a 1958 graduate of City College whose career was launched by his experience as an ROTC cadet at the college, and City College President Lisa S. Coico.

CUNY colleges have a long history with ROTC. City College enrolled its first ROTC student in 1917 and graduated new officers until 1972. There were Air Force ROTC programs at Brooklyn College and Queens College in the 1950s and the 1960s, and some Army ROTC courses offered on other campuses, such as those at John Jay College of Criminal Justice from the 1970s to 1989.

Participants included Col. Twala Mathis, commander of the 2nd ROTC Brigade and retired Gen. John Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. University leaders included Allan Dobrin, executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer; Marcia V. Keizs, president of York College; and Richard Ventola, president of City College’s ROTC Alumni Group. Recent City College Alumnus Don Gomez, a highly decorated Iraqi war veteran, Truman Scholar and Colin Powell Fellow, was also in attendance.

The new CCNY location will serve as the CUNY-wide base for Army ROTC activities in partnership with York College, which began offering ROTC courses earlier this academic year, and Medgar Evers College, which will start its program in the fall. Additionally, all three locations will provide military and leadership education opportunities for students attending other University colleges. Students participating in ROTC are eligible for competitive scholarships that cover full tuition, fees and books, along with a monthly stipend. After graduation, students are commissioned as Army second lieutenants and can serve in one of 16 career fields.

Gen. Smith said: “ROTC provides officers to the Army from a diverse mix of more than 1,200 colleges and universities. The addition of CUNY campuses will provide the Army’s officer corps urban experience and could contribute significantly to the racial, ethnic and geographic diversity that makes our Army strong.”

Chancellor Goldstein said: “The launching of a University-wide program at City College and the collaboration with program partners at York College and Medgar Evers College marks a new opportunity for scholarships and career options for all students. We welcome the resumption of the long and distinguished history of military service by members of the CUNY community.”

General Powell has credited his ROTC training with focusing his interests and abilities midway through his freshman year at City College. He graduated with a commission as an Army second lieutenant, and eventually became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. City College recently named its Division of Social Sciences the Colin L. Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.

Gen. Powell said: “CCNY ROTC gave me structure and a passion to do my best and serve my country. CCNY started me off as a good second lieutenant. I just built on the great start I got here in Harlem at this marvelous citadel of education — The City College of New York. I am so pleased that ROTC has returned to prepare new generations of leaders.”

President Coico said: “For generations, City College has produced leaders in all walks of American Life. We are thrilled that our community — which so values excellence, service and inclusion — is joining with the ROTC to offer our students another avenue to service and career fulfillment.”

ROTC training focuses on leadership and military science. Students take 24 elective credits as part of a four-year college degree program that stresses academics, leadership and critical thinking and communication skills. Students learn to assess and adapt to changing environments, plan and set goals to achieve objectives, and to persist when plans change.

Hands-on experience in navigation, tactics and strategies are integral to the program. Students learn cultural awareness and sensitivity, protocols of how to engage dignitaries and diplomats, and practice through professional development the ethical values of respect, loyalty, duty, service, honor, integrity and personal courage.

The return to CUNY is part of a national resurgence of ROTC. Harvard, Yale and Columbia are among those that added ROTC in the past two years.

About The City University of New York:
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. The University serves more than 269,000-degree credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly 3 million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via, the University’s website.