Harvard welcomed the Army Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps back to campus Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Army’s new office in the Student Organization Center at Hilles. The event marks another step in Harvard’s continuing effort to reestablish the University’s relationship with the armed forces after four decades in which the University did not formally recognize ROTC.
During the ceremony, Harvard’s Director of Army SROTC Lieutenant Colonel Timothy J. Hall announced that the Army will offer SROTC classes for freshmen on Harvard’s campus in the fall. Despite the University’s recognition of Naval ROTC last year, cadets in that program still must travel to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to take courses.
In recent years, the University refused to recognize ROTC because it said that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—the policy that banned gay, lesbian, and bisexual citizens from serving openly in the military—violated Harvard’s anti-discrimination policy.
“It’s my sincere hope that the last 13 months will be remembered as a time of dramatic and welcome change at Harvard, an era of renewal characterized by expanded opportunity,” said University President Drew G. Faust.
Speakers and attendees at the ceremony highlighted the significance of the rekindling of Harvard’s relationship with the armed forces and the importance of serving in the military as a form of public service.
“Harvard is proud to count among its alumni heroic solider-scholars who have combined thought and action in times of war and times of peace,” Faust said. “May the students who visit this space be inspired as those in our past have been by the highest ideals of the United States of America.”
Hall said he plans to expand Army SROTC’s presence on Harvard’s campus beyond the new space in the SOCH. In addition to the new classes in the fall, physical training will begin on Harvard’s campus this semester.
Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds said that Harvard’s distance from MIT had in the past deterred some students who might have been interested in ROTC.
“The two-mile trek to MIT for our students was a distance not only physical but also metaphorical,” she said. “I believe today we create a space for our future civic leaders to form relationships with our future military leaders, deepening the perspective for all concerned.”
William J. K. Scopa ’15 said that the new offerings could spur more students to join SROTC.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the military. I am drawn to public service,” Scopa said. “Harvard students are a lot like that, and as they learn more about the program, they may be interested in joining.”
An assortment of senior Harvard administrators attended the event, alongside a cadre of cadets at the College and other military personnel.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said that his office would look for applicants interested in ROTC during the admissions process.
Hall said that future participation in SROTC depends in part on the enthusiasm of students already enrolled in the program.
“We want people who will make the commitment,” Hall said. “We’ll reach out, but frankly, our best advocates are our students.”
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at email@example.com.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: March 30, 2012
The photograph accompanying this article should originally have been attributed to Stephanie B. Mitchell, Harvard staff photographer.