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Lead From Where You’re At

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

While many of you had the experience of the nation rallying after the 9/11 attacks and, for a very few, some recollection from loved one’s stories of the how the nation came together in World War II, this COVID-19 pandemic is something entirely different. All of us are on the front line of this battle. It’s personal.

Another thing I think readers of the Corps Review have in common is what it feels like to put service above self. It’s the power that comes from being part of an organization that shows you in real, visible ways that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That’s the lesson of what it means to be a cadet from Virginia Tech.

We will be a different country when this virus has been wrestled to the ground. I think it is fair to say that we will be a different Corps of Cadets, too. We’ve learned, for example, how to operate our regiment as if it is deployed from home station.

Like the rest of the university, our classes were taught online. We had a small contingent — we call it Task Force Blacksburg — living here in our residence halls. The remaining cadets — we call them iCorps — were spread across the country. We managed multiple chains of command, used technology to communicate, and ensured that we kept sight of the fact that leadership is a very human endeavor.

Summer orientation at the university, the time when we would be meeting new cadets and their families face to face, will be done completely online. Our ability to fit new cadets for uniforms will have to come later.

At the same time, we are forging ahead, identifying cadet leaders and the new chain of command in anticipation that the mission will continue — whatever the circumstances we may be presented.

In May, Virginia Tech renamed its New Cadet Hall as Pearson Hall West to recognize the continued generosity of J. Pearson ’87 and Renae Pearson ’90. Pearson Hall West is the newer of our two residence halls. The first, which was already named for the Pearsons, is now known as Pearson Hall East.

Plus, we continue to plan for construction of a third new residence hall and the Corps Leadership and Military Science Building.

Finally, we are looking for ways in the coming academic year to honor the completion of the training and service the Class of 2020 has provided over the course of the last four years. We wish them well as they each start exciting careers during a time when exceptional leaders will be in even more demand.

As the coming year unfolds, we will be using all our available means — social media, emails, Class Champions, this magazine — to keep you apprised of how things are going and how you can help through your engagement, best wishes, and support.

Until then, be well.

And remember, no matter where you are at, you can still lead.

Pearson Hall East is seen from Lane Hall.
In May, Virginia Tech renamed its New Cadet Hall as Pearson Hall West to recognize the continued generosity of J. Pearson ’87 and Renae Pearson ’90.