Army Ending ROTC At 3 Tennessee Universities - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Army Ending ROTC At 3 Tennessee Universities

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by Adam Ghassemi

COOKEVLLE, Tenn. Most Tennessee Tech students are only busy with classes this many weeks into the fall semester, but junior Daniel McGee is also planning his future out…again.

McGee, who hopes to become a 2nd Lt. in the Army, enrolled at Tech for its ROTC program, which helps pay his tuition. But now he and others who won't be finished by 2015 are faced with a decision before they could ever become commissioned officers.

"They're either going to drop the program or they're just going to have to transfer," McGee said.

The Army is cutting the program at 13 schools across the country. Tennessee is the hardest hit with UT Martin, East Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech all losing programs.

Monday, a spokesman with the U.S. Army Cadet Command, which oversees the ROTC, said the program is over represented in many southern states while many young men and women in larger cities or western states may not be exposed to it.

He said shifting demographics mean new programs will open in cities like Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago, New York and states like Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

"These closures are necessary changes that allow for more efficient use of available resources within the command, while maintaining a presence in all 50 states," said Karl F. Schneider, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs in a written statement.

Tennessee Tech President Dr. Phil Oldham said he's puzzled by the Army's decision that would cut Tech's 63-year-old program which has produced at least 1,600 officers and even a four-star General.

That's why Oldham wrote a letter to challenge the Army's decision and hopefully save it.

"It's a significant impact on the campus," he said. "If you want engineers, if you want nurses, which the Army does, this is an ideal place to have a unit".

McGee, who is studying to become a civil engineer, recently joined the National Guard to reach his military goals and help pay for the rest of his college career.

Oldham hopes he and others on a newly formed task force find a way to save ROTC before it's too late.

"We're a little puzzled by the decision quite honestly and would like an opportunity to change their mind," Oldham went on to say.

Students currently enrolled in programs slated to end will get help figuring out their next steps, Army officials said.

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