The Georgia Regents University ROTC program will live to fight another day.
The Army confirmed Wednesday it will postpone the closures of 13 underperforming units across the country. In October, the Army announced it was shutting down programs graduating 15 or fewer cadets per year to relocate the resources to larger growth markets.
According to a statement from Congressman John Barrow, GRU’s ROTC will remain on a two-year probation status and be re-evaluated after that.
“The ROTC program at GRU was named the best program in the country, so shutting it down just doesn’t make any sense,” Barrow said in a statement. “Working together, we were able to preserve this program and give them time to show the Army why the GRU ROTC program is the last program that should be eliminated, not the first. I’m very pleased with the Army’s decision and even more excited for the students who will now be able to attend GRU on ROTC scholarships. The entire community deserves thanks for speaking out to save this program, and I look forward to working with them to see that it stays.”
After the announcement last month, Barrow and congressional members representing the other affected schools sent a letter to the Army asking it to reconsider.
Barrow spokesman Richard Carbo said staff was in contact with the Army “if not daily then every other day” pressing for answers. Carbo said Barrow was concerned GRU’s unit was being punished for low graduation rates after being instructed by the Army in recent years to limit the number of commissioned officers.
Students enrolled in ROTC graduate as second lieutenants in the Army while also completing an undergraduate degree of their choice.
Cadets sign a contract in their third year of the program agreeing to become officers in the Army, the reserves or the National Guard upon graduation.
Over the past three years, the GRU program has commissioned 38 cadets into the military. It has consistently been one of the best-performing units in the country and in March was named Battalion of the Year by the U.S. Army Cadet Command 6th Brigade Headquarters among 270 other universities.
The closure was set to take effect at the end of the 2014-15 academic year, giving cadets in their final two years time to graduate. Upon the announcement, about 15 freshman and sophomore cadets were scrambling to relocate to other colleges with ROTC programs, Lt. Col. William Cantrell told The Augusta Chronicle earlier this month.
The closure also would have affected high school students, who would have had to look outside of Augusta for an ROTC opportunity.
Charles Garner, whose grandson went through four years of JROTC at Evans with full intention to enroll at GRU, said this reversal allows his grandson to apply to GRU ROTC as planned.
“I’m just elated they’ve restored it,” Garner said. “As for Congressman Barrow, he’s got a new, strong supporter in me.”