Spring 2017 Corps Review | Back
By Commandant of Cadets Maj. Gen. Randal D. Fullhart, U.S. Air Force (retired)
One of the challenges in writing these articles is that by the time they are printed much may have changed. That certainly is my challenge as I write about recent and current events and why the mission of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets is more critical than ever before.
During the early part of my career, flying airlift missions, I participated in many operations that were a result of the Cold War. Scores of aircraft, personnel, and equipment were flying the skies over the Atlantic, moving our forces forward to demonstrate America’s resolve and partnership with our NATO allies. The exercise’s purpose was to demonstrate our ability to rapidly reinforce Europe in the face of threats from the Soviet Union.
Fast forward to the week that I’m writing this, and U.S. forces are once again deploying into Europe — this time in Poland — demonstrating that same resolve in the face of Russian aggression in the Ukraine, Crimea, and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, what used to be harmless coral atolls in the South China Sea are being transformed into fighting bases by China, and those bases will include air fields, weapons storage areas, and re-supply centers. All this is occurring in the shadow of the Philippines, where U.S. forces fought and died during World War II and continue to fight today against terrorist organizations.
Just a few years ago, U.S. military forces were being reduced in numbers. Now they are growing. Military equipment, long-overused and long-overdue for replacement, is now gaining attention.
Here at home, we are struggling to overcome long-neglected infrastructure issues while simultaneously dealing with threats to our modern technological infrastructure that our institutions, public and private, depend on.
The journey of social opportunity, justice, and equality is continuing its meandering path, confused by generational differences and circumstances — not to mention the fast-changing technological, sociological, and economic forces at play.
So with all that swirling around us, we pause and look inward at today’s and tomorrow’s Corps and reflect on our mission and its importance.
We continue to address the facilities, financial underpinnings, and academic rigor of our program. This fall, we will move into the second of the two new residence halls, and we are pushing hard for state support of the Corps Leadership and Military Science Building. In the face of reduced revenue at the state level, we are constantly struggling to ensure that we receive the necessary public funding to accomplish our mission. That is why the generosity of alumni, past and future, is needed more than ever.
On the academic front, I am pleased to note that through new programs instituted by the Rice Center for Leader Development and hard work by the cadets, we achieved a record-high average Corps GPA for the fall 2016 semester — 3.14 on a 4.0 scale!
Elaine Humphrey, the director of the Rice Center for Leader Development, is working with the Pamplin College of Business to prepare for the next cycle of accreditation for our courses and, in particular, the minor in leadership.
For the first time since the minor was created, we are putting it through a comprehensive review. As a result, we are increasing the credit received by cadets in our Citizen-Leader Track and adjusting course requirements to reflect our philosophic aim of developing global, ethical leaders. By taking advantage of existing university courses, we are able to offer cadets a more tailored set of course choices on global ethics and a baseline course on management to compliment the courses we and our ROTC partners provide on leader development.
Looking to the future, we are pleased to welcome Sandi R. Bliss, our new director of advancement for the Corps. She will blend the efforts of alumni relations, communications, and development. This is important as we look for new ways to solidify our connections with our alumni and donor communities in advance of our major efforts to address needs in scholarships, global travel, and increased academic offerings.
On a broader front, the Corps staff is engaging in the Integrated Security Destination Area, a university focus on developing expertise and graduates who are steeped in disciplines and experiences that will enable them to lead the way in addressing pressing and emerging security challenges for our nation.
Taken together — the challenges surrounding us in the world, the resource needs of the Corps, and the academic success we are seeing in our programs and cadets — it paints a picture of a vibrant Corps that is needed now, more than ever.
With that, alumni and friend support and engagement is needed now, more than ever, too. Everything counts — whether you offer words of encouragement to cadets, serve as mentors, come to talk with cadets during reunions and other gatherings, or make financial investments small and large!
The leaders we are developing will be leading in interesting times. More importantly, they will be called upon and challenged in ways never before experienced. What does not change are the values inherent in great leaders: honor, ethics, professionalism, always doing what is right.
So what I hoped I’ve conveyed is a sense of optimism and excitement, in a time of need and unprecedented demand for the type of leaders we produce.
It’s a great time to be a part of the Corps!