Virginia Tech®home

We Rise to the Occasion

By Commandant of Cadets Maj. Gen. Randal D. Fullhart, U.S. Air Force (retired)

It’s the question on everyone’s mind. “What is the impact of COVID-19 on the Corps?”

Well, the short answer is that the Corps, numbering 1,182 cadets (an increase over the previous year again), has risen to the challenge.

Throughout the summer, the Corps staff and the university as a whole focused on how to deliver as much of the student learning experience as possible in-person and within guidelines established at the federal, state, and local levels.

Working with the fall cadet leaders, preparations were made to conduct cadre training and New Cadet Week on the normal schedule, beginning two weeks prior to classes starting.

Just as the U.S. military has adapted its training and protocols to reduce the potential for acquisition and transmission of the virus, so did we in the Corps. This included everything you would expect, from the wearing of masks, physical distancing, increased hand sanitization, and adjustments in how we conducted formations and parades.

The bottom line is that all the traditional training that is expected for our cadets is being accomplished. If anything, it has brought a whole new meaning to the term “taking care of your troops.” The entire chain of command understands that the decisions made and discipline shown can be measured in very real terms.

Has the Corps and the university been immune from the virus? No. But well-executed testing, isolation, and quarantine protocols have allowed our program to continue, unabated. A full New Cadet Week parade and a full-Corps parade were accomplished, with both events livestreamed to thousands of viewers.

Because in-person alumni-related events are being postponed, our alumni office and cadets stepped up to conduct a full week of live, online activities that allowed our cadets and alumni to remain connected.

The Caldwell March for the Class of 2024 was conducted, and the Class of 2023 cadets who missed out on their march last spring were able to close the loop on that tradition, too.

The cadets have managed the transition to in-person, hybrid, and online classes well. And I’m pleased to see all the work that the cadet chain of command and staff provided to assist all our cadets, and in particular our first-year cadets, in adjusting to the current “normal” of college academic programs.

It’s a testament to all involved — staff, cadets, and alumni who continue to generously support our development of leaders of character — that we are achieving such success.

You couldn’t ask for a finer program to create leaders who take these kinds of challenges in stride and rise to the occasion.