Fall 2017 Corps Review | Back
By Commandant of Cadets Maj. Gen. Randal D. Fullhart, U.S. Air Force (retired)
As I reflect back on the year, I am reminded of the questions I’m always asked by alumni and friends of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. The first is, “How are things going?” A close second is, “How many cadets do we have now?”
The second one is easy to answer: We started this year with 1,062 cadets. That generally leads to, “Are we going to continue to grow the Corps?”
Every senior military college in the country has some form of physical limit, usually set by bed space.
Texas A&M University now has over 2,600 cadets, and its president has asked the corps to grow to 3,000. Residence halls and staff are being added to meet that challenge.
Our two new residence halls can handle up to 1,097 cadets. We were at 1,093 last year. We can go to 1,115 if forced to put beds in lounges, but that is counterproductive to the mission.
Other senior military colleges assign a staff member to every company-sized unit. We are not funded to do that. We have two staff members — a deputy commandant and a senior enlisted advisor — for every four companies. Each of them carry several additional duties.
How are things going? The answer this year is, “Very good, but...” If this program and this institution are going to live up to their potential, we have to acknowledge that to be great is going to take all of us, working together, to make that happen. Let me offer some updates and efforts to this end.
Corps Leadership and Military Science Building
We have an approved project, preliminary design complete and private money to support a sizeable portion of the project. We need support in Richmond to get the state funding approved. Let your representatives know how important their support is for the Corps.
Unique Military Activities Funds
Cadet tuition and fees paid to Virginia Tech do not come to the Corps. The only thing we charge for is uniforms, and that cost is mostly covered by the military services for those on ROTC contracts and a portion is covered by the state for those in the Citizen-Leader Track.
The “cost of being a cadet” is about $350 a year, at most. That fee can be completely covered by things like an Emerging Leader Scholarship.
Our only funding through the state budget comes as Unique Military Activities Funds. We are supposed to receive a comparable amount of funding per cadet to what Virginia Military Institute (VMI) receives. We don’t. In 2011, we were $600,000 short. With support from the university and the commonwealth, we closed that gap. We would not have the staff we have today if it had not been for that correction.
But it was short-lived. We’re once again almost $400,000 behind what VMI received for the past two years. In real terms, we lose money because of rising mandatory costs.
Philanthropy is needed to make up the difference and support critical initiatives that go beyond just turning on the lights and falling out for formation and parades.
What can you do? When talking to university officials and state representatives you should also talk to them about the critical need to support our Unique Military Activities Fund requests.
Attracting and Retaining Quality Cadets
We compete nationally for students (and parents), who are shopping for the best deal. Sizeable scholarships are an important consideration for recruiting and retaining cadets. Attracting ROTC scholarships is a function of the quality of our academic programs, our Corps program, the size and quality of our residence halls, and the quality of the ROTC program facilities.
Increasing our endowments for Emerging Leader Scholarships must be a top priority for us all. Our goal is to offer every cadet a scholarship and to raise the overall value of each.
What can you do? If you have already established an Emerging Leader Scholarships, thank you! Please consider increasing the amount invested to help even more cadets. If you have not, please consider doing so or contributing toward an established class Emerging Leader Scholarship. If you want to fund a scholarship in the future, please consider a legacy gift. Our advancement team is here to help.
There’s an exciting opportunity to help us establish an endowment for an assistant director of the Rice Center for Leader Development. This one-person organization needs to grow if we are to enrich our curriculum to prepare cadets to lead in a global environment and to face the ethical dilemmas that appear daily in the news.
Additionally, we will be increasing our Global Scholars Program for the long term that connects classroom work with travel around the world. We’ve sent 12 cadets on week-long trips for the last two years. Other programs, such as Texas A&M’s corps, send 75 cadets to two countries for more than a week and have a full-time staff member that plans and staffs the program.
What can you do? Add to an existing endowment or establish an endowment toward our Global Scholars Program.
It’s Not Just Money
Whether cadets plan on a military career or to work in the public and private sector, they would really like to talk to people who have been there. What can you do? Mentor a cadet or help us identify opportunities in your companies and organizations.
What does it take to go from good to great? The answer is, “All of us.”
Thank you for your support in this worthy endeavor!