By Stan Zygmunt, Director of News and Media Relations, The University of Scranton
Contemplatives in action come to mind when Cadet Vincent Oliverio thinks of the way that Jesuit values are embedded in the ROTC Program at The University of Scranton. “When we see others being oppressed, we are taught to reflect, make decisions and take action when needed for the good of others,” says Oliverio, a senior computer engineering major.
Cadet Ryan Haley sees Jesuit values in the ROTC’s commitment to excellence and the challenge to develop fully the talents of each individual. “Our commitment to develop ourselves and our commitment to become excellent leaders goes back to our concern for the individual, because we want to make sure that we are doing right for the people we serve,” says Haley, a senior business administration major.
Lieutenant Colonel William White, professor of military science at Scranton, thinks of the selflessness and sacrifice of St. Ignatius: “Ignatius was a soldier. He started on the same path as me. I can understand that piece of it, and see some parallels to the military in the areas of personal sacrifice and obedience.”
Lt. Col. White goes on to describe the broader need for the key skills a Jesuit education provides. He explains, “The Army needs critical thinkers. Our role as an officer often falls in a gray area. Questions asked of you don’t have simple black and white answers that are found in the book. Officers step in when the answer in the book doesn’t work, or when you don’t have a cut and dry answer. We need the officer’s critical thinking ability to research, analyze and understand the bigger picture and to then be able to make an informed decision.”
The ROTC Program at The University of Scranton
The Army ROTC was established at The University of Scranton in 1951, with the first individuals earning their commissions from the program in 1955. During the 1950s and 1960s, all full-time students were male and every student was required to take ROTC for the first two years at the University. During this time, more than 1,000 students participated in the Cadet regiment. The Army ROTC offered a host of activities, including a Cadet Band, Cadet Rifle Team and a Cadet-led Drill and Ceremony Team.
In 1969, participation in the ROTC Program became voluntary. Cadet enrollment declined significantly during the Vietnam conflict and in the early 1970s, the program almost closed. In 1975, a University history professor and academic vice president, the late Rev. Joseph A. Rock, S.J., who was very passionate about keeping the program, wrote to Congress and the closure was averted. Fr. Rock was also instrumental in the creation of the ROTC unit crest, which is still worn by cadets to this day. In 1996, the North East Pennsylvania Battalion, as it was now formally named, moved its headquarters to “Rock Hall,” which the University named after the Jesuit educator who devoted so much time and support to the ROTC program.
Thanks to the support of many, including former University President Rev. J.A. Panuska, S.J., the program has continued to grow. Several incentives, such as free room and board, were approved for students who won high school ROTC scholarships. In 1995, the University became an Army Partner in Nursing Education, and in 1998, the program became one of the first in the nation to approve a minor in leadership centered mainly around the ROTC program of instruction.
Today, ROTC cadets routinely spend their summers engaged in additional ROTC training programs that include professional development, such as Cadet Troop Leader Training, Project Global Officer (GO) Language Training and the Cultural Understanding and Language Program (CULP). These programs afford cadets the opportunity to train across the United States and around the globe.
According to Lt. Col. White, the ROTC program follows an experiential learning model that educates and trains through an almost apprentice type of approach. He says, “These cadets first understand what it is to be a leader, then actually lead. The majority of the duties of seniors during the year is to run the organization with the mission of preparing the underclass – the next generation – to be ready to assume their leadership role the following year.”
The ROTC program also uses defined mentorship groups, with each class member serving as mentors to the class behind them. The mentorship extends beyond the ROTC program to help the mentees progress through college, and develop ideas of what they want to do after graduation.
“Military service is not something that is normal to most people. We are less than one percent of the population – so there is a whole lot of education and guidance needed to help these individuals grow and develop fully. This is a critical part of what we do,” says Lt. Col. White.
“You could join ROTC as a mediocre student or [be] in mediocre physical shape, but the program is run in such a way that you will be pushed to be excellent in every situation – academically, physically, spiritually, emotionally,” says Cadet Oliverio. “Together, we push each other, we all have a similar drive. We joined this because it’s something we wanted to do and that motivates us to strive for excellence.”
ROTC Unit Crest
The late Rev. Joseph A. Rock, S.J., a history professor and academic vice president at The University of Scranton, who devoted much time and support to Scranton’s ROTC program, was instrumental in the creation of the University’s ROTC unit crest (pictured left), which is still worn by cadets to this day. Father Rock also served as acting president of the University in 1970.
Colors of the Shield
Royal purple and white, the original and traditional colors of The University of Scranton, are employed as the principle tinctures of the shield. The black border is representative of the border of the Coats of Arms of the Diocese of Scranton, PA, the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in which The University of Scranton is located.
The Lion, symbolic of strength and intelligence, is used in the unit patch to designate the strength of the University’s ROTC Detachment, as well as the Armed Forces in general.
The Cross represented in the patch is a “Cross Patonce” and symbolizes Christ. As such, it is used in the patch to identify The University of Scranton as a Catholic institution.
The Lightning Bolt, striking through the center of the patch, is symbolic of the strength of the Church and the Military as represented by The University of Scranton and the ROTC Detachment. Since this ROTC Detachment is under the jurisdiction of the Training and Doctrine Command, the color of the lightning bolt is representative of the red found in the TRADOC patch.
The Keystone found in the corner of the patch, is representative of the State of Pennsylvania: The Keystone State. It is therefore intended to signify The University of Scranton as being located in the State of Pennsylvania. It is also representative in the University’s charter by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.