UW-L’s ROTC program exceeds Army criteria to continue

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From left, UW-L’s ROTC Battalion Commander Lt. Col. James Hill, Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow during a visit Johnson made to campus Nov. 8, 2013. The Army’s reconsideration of its initial decision was due in large part to the advocacy of Johnson, Congressman Ron Kind and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow noted.

UW-La Crosse’s ROTC Eagle Battalion Reserve Officers’ Training program has secured U.S. Army approval to continue on campus. The program will be re-evaluated annually with the next evaluation set for June 2015.

The news came in a letter to UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow from the U.S. Army Cadet Command, dated July 30.

“This is an incredibly good letter to receive — especially after what we went through last year,” says Lt. Col. James Hill, ROTC Eagle Battalion commander.

In October 2013, the U.S. Army notified UW-L that the University’s ROTC program was being considered for closure because of a reduction in Army resources. However, the Army rescinded its decision a month later and put the battalion on probation while it created a set of metrics to evaluate ROTC programs across the country.

Under the new metrics, UW-L’s program has successfully met the Army’s criteria for 2013-14. UW-L’s ROTC program has a three-year average of commissioning 15.3 ROTC officers into the U.S. Army a year. These program graduates become members of the U.S. Army National Guard, the Army Reserve or active duty officers. That exceeds the minimum commission average of 15 officers a year nationally.

Also, the letter notes that 22.9 percent of UW-L’s ROTC program graduates have degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. This percentage far exceeds the ROTC national average of 16.1 percent and helps the Army work toward its overall goal of having more officers in STEM fields.

“We are delighted the Army has reconsidered its decision and we’re proud of how quickly the Eagle Battalion has been able to satisfy the new standards,” says UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow. “It’s particularly gratifying to see how significantly UW-L is meeting, and even exceeding, the need for STEM Army officers.”

UW-L’s ROTC graduation rate in STEM field is the real strength of the battalion, says Hill.

“That’s what will keep it here for a long time to come,” he says. “This is very good news for our cadets and for the university.”