Fiat Service and Leadership Development!

Throughout our University’s 184-year history, our alumni, students, staff, and faculty have answered the call to serve. Among notable Alfred University community members who have served in our nation’s military: Colonel William Wallace Brown, Class of 1861, a Civil War veteran who would go on to represent Pennsylvania as a member of Congress; Wallace “Wally” Higgins ’52, a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps and the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II; and Kristin Beck ’89, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL who was deployed 13 times, including operations in the Middle East, and is the first openly transgender former SEAL.

During the 1910s and 1940s, our campus hosted an Army Specialized Training Program, preparing students and local residents for combat, with many called to serve in World War I and II.

Our University’s connection to military service is further manifest in an Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program that dates back nearly seven decades.

Our ROTC program has undergone several changes over the years. In 1956, four years after the program was created, the University required all physically qualified males to participate; compulsory participation in ROTC ended 14 years later. The program had a presence on our campus until 1976, when low participation rates forced cadets to take classwork and training at St. Bonaventure University, host institution for the ROTC Seneca Battalion.

Perhaps the most impactful changes came in 1992, when the U.S. military implemented its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding sexual orientation. While the ROTC program remained active here, Alfred University responded to a policy it viewed as discriminatory by refusing to accept ROTC scholarship funding from the Army and ceasing to offer credit for Military Science coursework offered through the program.

Some of the changes in our ROTC program brought on by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were reversed when the policy was repealed in 2011. Others weren’t: while our University did resume accepting ROTC scholarships from the Army, Military Science courses remained non-credit bearing.

That is changing beginning this semester, when cadets will earn credits for their ROTC coursework. For Dillon Smith ’19, it is a move he hopes will help him in his goal of revitalizing our ROTC program.

Dillon earned a bachelor’s degree in experimental psychology and criminal justice and was one of two Marlin Miller Outstanding Senior Award recipients last May. Now a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in college student development, Dillon is serving the role of Military Affairs liaison for his graduate assistantship.

In promoting the benefits of ROTC to prospective cadets—there are currently four enrolled here; nine prospective students for the 2020-21 school year have applied for ROTC scholarships—Dillon is quick to point to ROTC scholarships and a student’s ability to earn credits for Military Science classes. Scholarships fund tuition and include monthly living stipends and a book allowance. Earning credits for ROTC coursework is significant, too. Typically, between 15 and 20 credits can be earned (two to three per semester), which can be used for non-required general electives, to satisfy physical education requirements, and to help cadets earn their Leadership minor.

I urge current students who may be interested in learning more about our ROTC program, or have questions about available funding for veterans, to reach out to Dillon. And, if you know of a prospective student who would be a good candidate to enroll in the program, please let Dillon know. For more information, please visit the Alfred University Military Affairs website.

In addition to receiving scholarship funding and earning academic credit, ROTC cadets graduate as commissioned officers in the Army. Moreover the leadership traits ROTC instills in cadets will serve them well during and after their time on our campus.

Please join me in thanking those members of our community who serve or have served in our nation’s military. Please also join me in thanking Dillon for his leadership as our Military Affairs liaison, and trustee Neal Miller and Dr. Robert Chaikin ’62, who have provided the generous philanthropic underwriting for Dillon’s graduate assistantship.

Fiat service and leadership development!