Harvard ROTC Commissions Three Officers

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps commissioned three Harvard College seniors as officers in the U.S. armed forces at a ceremony Wednesday, the first since Harvard officially recognized the program after banning it 40 years ago.

The ceremony honored social studies concentrator Christopher W. Higgins ’11, government concentrator Aaron R. Scherer ’11, and economics concentrator James D. Reach ’11. Michael G. Schoenan—a student at the Extension School—also took part in the ceremony but will not take his oath until he finishes his thesis. As part of the ceremony, the students’ families pinned their new ranks to their uniforms.

Major General James C. McConville—recently named the commander of the 101st Airborne Division—delivered the keynote speech at the event.

Though the speakers made little mention of the return of Harvard’s ROTC program—choosing instead to focus on the accomplishments of the men being honored—Faust hinted at the renewed relationship between Harvard and the armed forces.

“I hope that your place in a long and now fully-invigorated Harvard tradition of military service and sacrifice supports and inspires you in the months and years to come,” Faust said, speaking in front of a crowd that spanned the front row sections of Tercentenary Theatre.

This was the fourth ROTC graduation attended by University President Drew G. Faust.

The speakers emphasized that although following a military path may not promise the highest of salaries, the career comes with added benefits.

“No one walks up to a hedge fund manager in the airport and thanks them for their service,” McConville said.

Scherer—who will attend an Arizona-based military intelligence school—is his family’s third son to graduate from Harvard and the third to be commissioned as an Army officer.

Reach will train as an aviator when he graduates, and Higgins will attend the University of Cambridge on a Fulbright Scholarship.

In total, 19 Harvard undergraduates were enrolled in the program this year.

Faust announced in March that Harvard would officially recognize the Naval chapter of ROTC after Congress repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military policy which banned gays and lesbians from openly serving the military. While ROTC has not had an outpost on Harvard’s campus since it was banned in the late 1960s, the University has had an agreement in place with MIT since 1976 that allows Harvard students to participate in the program.

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

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