So what is 63 years of loyal service producing more than 1,600 commissioned officers, including a 4-star general, two 3-stars, two 2-stars, a brigadier general, and a rear admiral worth in today’s world? Apparently, not much. That’s certainly the message I received loud and clear a couple of days ago with a cold, matter-of-fact call from the U.S. Army Cadet Command informing me of the Army’s decision to close the Tennessee Tech ROTC Battalion after more than 60 years.
As president of a state university, I am no stranger to the reality that leaders have to frequently make tough decisions. However, generally the tougher the decision, the more important the process is by which the decision is made. In this case, I completely disagree with the conclusion drawn behind closed doors, but I am even more justifiably angry and saddened by the process itself. With more than 60 years of commitment to producing many of the U.S. military’s best leaders, Tennessee Tech has earned the respect and common courtesy of due process. We were not consulted or notified prior to or during this review, nor were we given any opportunity to make any programmatic adjustments to better meet new Army expectations. In fact, every indication has been that our unit was meeting the Army’s mission and in good standing with the Cadet Command.
Even now, I am unaware of the details of the criteria used to support the decision. I assume it ultimately came down to dollars and numbers of cadets. Unfortunately, quality is left out of that calculation. What has always made the U.S. military so effective are the values embodied in the hearts and souls of individual soldiers.
The soldiers we produce choose careers that make the world a better place; they are problem solvers and protectors. Tennessee Tech produces the largest concentration of engineering, science and health care graduates in the region. (TTU produces 40% of the engineers in Tennessee annually.) These are all disciplines desperately needed in today’s military. But more importantly, TTU graduates embody the same values that make our military great.
We refuse to accept this situation without a fight. We are aggressively working with our congressional delegation to reverse this unfortunate decision. If you have any thoughts or just want to voice your support, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a bad decision for the country and for TTU, but most of all, It’s Just Not Right!