Campus

BREAKING: Columbia to officially reinstate Navy ROTC program after 42 years

According to a letter from President Bollinger sent to all Columbia affiliates---as well as a press release sent out today---Columbia will reinstate the Navy ROTC program at Columbia, ending a de facto ban that has been in place since 1969.

The reinstatement, which was was announced today by President Bollinger and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, will become formal once "don't ask, don't tell" is officially repealed, which is anticipated to happen later this year.

President Bollinger provided the following statement in the press release:

Repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law provided a historic opportunity for our nation to live up to its ideals of equality and also for universities to reconsider their relationships with the military. After many months of campus discussion, open forums, and a strongly favorable vote in the University Senate, together with consultation with the University's Council of Deans, it is clear that the time has come for Columbia to reengage with the military program of ROTC.  I believe that it is the right course of action for Columbia to formalize this recognition and thereby add to the diversity of choices for education and public service we make available to our students.

Full press release and President Bollinger's email after the jump:

Columbia to Officially Recognize Naval ROTC

NEW YORK, April 22, 2011 — Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus today announced that Columbia and the U.S. Navy have agreed to officially reinstate Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Program enrollment opportunities at the University.

“Repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law provided a historic opportunity for our nation to live up to its ideals of equality and also for universities to reconsider their relationships with the military,” said Bollinger. “After many months of campus discussion, open forums, and a strongly favorable vote in the University Senate, together with consultation with the University's Council of Deans, it is clear that the time has come for Columbia to reengage with the military program of ROTC.  I believe that it is the right course of action for Columbia to formalize this recognition and thereby add to the diversity of choices for education and public service we make available to our students.”

Under the agreement, Columbia will resume full and formal recognition of Naval ROTC after the effective date of the repeal of the law that disqualified openly gay men and lesbians from military service, anticipated to come later this year.

“Columbia University and the Department of the Navy have a long and rich history together,” said Secretary Mabus. “The formal recognition of Naval ROTC by Columbia marks a renewal of that storied relationship. Columbia’s tremendous support to our men and women in uniform returning from the recent wars is overwhelming, as are the growing numbers of veterans who are woven into the fabric of this great institution. The return of Naval ROTC to campus will only serve to enhance and strengthen our institutions and continue to contribute to the success of this great country.”

On April 1, Columbia’s University Senate passed a resolution by a vote of 51-17 welcoming “the opportunity to explore mutually beneficial relationships with the Armed Forces of the United States, including participation in the programs of the Reserve Officers Training Corps.” University Provost Claude M. Steele will establish a committee of faculty, students and administrators to oversee implementation of the ROTC program consistent with Columbia’s academic standards and policies of nondiscrimination.

Columbia’s Navy and Marine Corps-option midshipmen will participate in Naval ROTC through the NROTC unit hosted at the SUNY Maritime College in Throgs Neck, Queens. They will join Columbia’s Army and Air Force ROTC members who will continue to train, as they do currently, with other New York area students at consortium units at Fordham University and Manhattan College. At present, there are nine Columbia and Barnard College students participating in these New York consortium units. The new agreement between the Navy and Columbia will provide that NROTC active duty Navy and Marine Corps officers will be able to meet with Columbia NROTC midshipmen on the Columbia campus in spaces furnished by Columbia.

“In recent years Columbia has proudly welcomed hundreds of talented veterans as undergraduate, graduate and professional students,” Bollinger said. “Some continue to serve in the Reserves; others are now ROTC members. They have greatly enriched the diversity of life experience and perspectives that make a university a place of intellectual discovery and their example gives me confidence that our campus can be a forum for further enhancing the relationship between our military and civil society.”

In addition to Columbia’s growing community of student military veterans, more than half of whom attend the School of General Studies, the University in recent years also dedicated a new War Memorial prominently placed in Butler Library. The memorial includes an interactive Roll of Honor website that lists the names of all known Columbians who lost their lives in the nation’s military service going back to the Revolutionary War.

The School of General Studies has taken a leading role in Columbia’s university-wide participation the Yellow Ribbon program of education benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans, some 340 of whom are currently enrolled at Columbia. The school was originally founded after World War II in part to provide a Columbia undergraduate education to veterans and other nontraditional students.

The University has a long history of educational programming with the U.S. military and the Navy in particular. Beginning in 1942, Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus served as a Midshipmen’s School that trained more than 20,000 officer candidates for duty during the next four years. Columbia was also a site for the Navy’s V-12 programs, which trained doctors and dentists for military service. A third program, the Military Government School, was established to train a cadre of naval officers to handle the administration of occupied territories.

Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons created a hospital in Europe to minister to the wounded, following U.S. troops first to England and later to France, sometimes operating in hospitals behind the lines and at other times in tents nearer the front. It had provided a similar service during World War I. In 1942, the medical school organized the Second General Hospital on the Washington Heights campus to treat soldiers and sailors who were sent home due to the severity of their wounds. At the end of the conflict, many veterans enrolled in the University with support from the G.I. Bill of Rights. Other veterans resumed academic careers as members of the faculty or joined the administrative ranks of the university.

In recent years this relationship has developed in many ways. In April 2010, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen began a national speaking tour focusing on civilian-military engagement and veterans’ issues with a day at Columbia that included a visit to the new war memorial, a luncheon with student military veterans and a public World Leaders Forum moderated by President Bollinger.

On Veterans Day in November 2010, with approval from the University Senate, Columbia student military veterans and current ROTC students began weekly honor guard ceremonies for the University’s American flag in front of Low Memorial Library.

“The University Senate provided an open and transparent process for multiple voices in the Columbia community to be heard on the issue of reinstating ROTC,” said Sharyn O’Halloran, chair of the University Senate and professor of political economy. “The overwhelming final vote reflected a strong consensus that the time has come for Columbia to reestablish relations with the ROTC in ways that both maintain our academic values and allow the university to play a productive role in educating the nation’s next generation of military leaders.”

President Bollinger's email:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

After many months of campus discussion, open forums, and a strongly favorable vote in the University Senate, together with consultation with the University's Council of Deans, it is clear that the time has come for Columbia to reengage with the military program of ROTC, subject to certain conditions and with ongoing review.  Accordingly, I am announcing today that after four decades Columbia again will recognize ROTC on campus through an agreement to reinstate a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program at the University.

Formal recognition of Naval ROTC by Columbia will resume after the effective date, expected later this year, of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law that disqualified openly gay men and lesbians from military service.  Under the agreement, Columbia’s Navy and Marine Corps-option midshipmen then will participate in Naval ROTC through the NROTC unit hosted at the SUNY Maritime College in Throgs Neck, Queens.  They will join Columbia’s Army and Air Force ROTC members who will continue to train, as they do currently, with other New York area students at consortium units at Fordham University and Manhattan College.  Provost Claude Steele will establish a committee of faculty, students, and administrators to oversee implementation of the ROTC program consistent with Columbia’s academic standards and policies of non-discrimination.

Columbia’s long and honorable history of engagement with the military includes major training programs for naval officers and medical personnel during World War II, and the founding of our School of General Studies in the aftermath of the war in part to provide a Columbia undergraduate education to returning veterans.   During both of last century’s world wars, Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons created and staffed hospital facilities in Europe for wounded combat troops, in some cases operating in the field of battle.  In recent years, hundreds of talented veterans welcomed here as undergraduate, graduate, and professional students have added to the diversity of experience and perspectives essential to making our University a place of intellectual discovery and open debate.  In recognition of those efforts, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen last spring came to our campus for a day of discussion of issues facing the military and our society.

I have confidence that, with the return of ROTC, Columbia will be an even more valuable forum for enhancing the relationship between our military and civil society in the years ahead.

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger

Comments

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Guest posted on

Professor Thaddeus,

I very much appreciate your comments on here. It's good to see faculty so involved on this issue. Keep it up.

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Pooja posted on

Affiliate for nrotc classs agnrodiccly so you have to the nrotc classs you have to the days you have to schedule your university you have to.The nrotc class in the affiliate university for all other nrotc functions so on the affiliate for all other nrotc classs at the days you also have to go to schedule class in the nrotc classs you have to go to schedule class in the days you take the affiliate university you take your regular classs agnrodiccly.For nrotc class in the affiliate for all other nrotc class in the nrotc class in the days you have to schedule your regular classs agnrodiccly so you take your classs agnrodiccly so on the nrotc classs at the affiliate university for all other nrotc functions so you also have to the affiliate for nrotc functions so on the days.For nrotc functions so you also have to go to schedule your regular classs at the days you have to the nrotc classs agnrodiccly so on the.

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Eric Chen posted on

Professor Thaddeus,

Establishing a new NROTC program is not instant. Doing so requires a relatively lengthy administrative process (contract, funding, space, manning, etc). Despite the "shrinking budgets", I don't believe that funding will be a major obstacle. Columbia NROTC is not a billion-dollar next-generation fighter jet project. I doubt that an agency that will continue to line-item by the millions and billions of dollars in discretionary funding after the budget cuts will be stymied in finding 100s of thousands or even a million-plus dollars to start Columbia NROTC.

Without being privy to the inside Columbia-Navy negotiations, on its face, the agreement accomplishes two things in two different timeframes.

In the short term, there is a finite window for currently enrolled students to join an ROTC program. Using a crosstown agreement with SUNY Maritime is the fastest way to open the door for students who are interested in NROTC right now, though everyone realizes the remoteness and commute are impractical. Waiting a year or two to open the NROTC opportunity cheats the Columbia student who must join NROTC now or lose the chance.

In the long term, as stated by the contracting parties, the goal is Columbia NROTC on Columbia's campus. The groundwork has been laid for that eventuality. As happens in life, it's possible we may stay stuck for the long term with the short-term crosstown agreement, but it's more likely that the crosstown agreement is a stopgap until the i's are dotted and t's are crossed in the administrative application for a Columbia NROTC on campus.

Professor Thaddeus, as an alumnus now commenting on an undergraduate newspaper website, I support you making your views known here. The Spec is the paper of record for Columbia, after all, and professors often write letters and opinions for the Spec. I think you're comments here are within the bounds of decorum and shows your passion for the Columbia community.

We don't agree on this issue. I would vigorously defend Columbia ROTC from any effort to dislodge it as much as I fought for its return to Columbia, but I believe our passionate interest on the issue as fellow Columbians is a sign of the vitality of our community.

Best,

Eric Chen

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Michael Thaddeus posted on

Of course, if people want to commute, that's up to them. No one would have objected to (or perhaps even noticed) a third crosstown agreement with SUNY Maritime, which would have been identical in practical terms, providing the same opportunity. What I and others do object to is the symbolism of establishing the military on the Columbia campus.

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SHUT UP posted on

UR MATHY U DONT KNOW POLICEE

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I don't. posted on

I rejoice at the symbolism of definitively rejecting the so-called "spirit of 68".

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Michael Thaddeus posted on

Thanks for the suggestion. Indeed I may. There are several vacant faculty seats, though not in my category.

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Anonymous posted on

That was way too fast.

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Jayna posted on

That's a smart answer to a difficult quetosin.

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Embarassed Faculty posted on

For the love of Pete, Michael, are you honestly bickering with undergraduates and sniping at your colleagues in the forums of the undergraduate student newspaper? So much for your spiel on "dignity" and "collegiality".

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Michael Thaddeus posted on

I have three questions.
(1) Where did I bicker with any undergraduate in the above?
(2) Which spiel on "dignity" and "collegiality" are you referring to? When do you claim I used those words?
(3) Who are you?

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Michael Thaddeus posted on

Since I vigorously opposed the reinstatement of ROTC on campus, my first reaction is that this is a sad day for Columbia. Giving any outside organization the authority to appoint faculty and teach courses on campus -- let alone one as controversial as the military -- compromises our autonomy and is a step in the wrong direction. It does not fit with the mission of a liberal arts university.

My second reaction is that, after all the sound and fury, this is a remarkably small step. The crosstown relationships with Army and Air Force ROTC at Fordham and Manhattan College will continue unchanged. And no new Naval ROTC unit will be set up. Rather, it seems that we will essentially enter into a third crosstown arrangement with the SUNY Maritime College (a far more appropriate institution than Columbia to host military instruction, by the way), with a few classes to be offered on Columbia premises. Evidently a Columbia unit was not a priority for the Navy in these days of shrinking budgets.

It certainly gives the lie to the claim, much retailed by Sharyn O'Halloran and other supporters, that we had to do this to spare our ROTC cadets a long commute. For getting to Throgs Neck will be far more arduous than Fordham or Manhattan College. I would rather we had just used our resources to pay for a shuttle bus.

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former student senator posted on

Professor Thaddeus - instead of attacking Professor O'Halloran online over policies and procedures you don't agree with, why don't you actually run for the Senate, and actually participate in formulating them? When I was there, a number of faculty seats were unfilled. I think that's still the case.

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Anonymous posted on

This argument makes no sense. All that this is doing is giving Columbia students the option of participating in NROTC. So what if it's far away? If people want to commute, let them. This is all about expanding opportunity and not denying your peers the choice to do this.

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Anonymous posted on

YES!

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