MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University plans to fight the elimination of its 44-year-old Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
NMU was notified that its ROTC program is one of 13 being eliminated nationwide in May 2015, the only one in Michigan to be cut. Northern has graduated nearly 400 students from its military science/ROTC program since it opened on the campus, according to information provided by the university.
The university currently has 65 ROTC cadets, 10 of whom are projected to be commissioned this year and another 14 next year. NMU's program serves both U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard cadets; the surprise Army announcement will subsequently impact the Michigan National Guard by taking away a training and educational source.
"Northern Michigan University will explore every appeals opportunity available to fight this," said NMU President David Haynes, who is a veteran, in a prepared statement. "Our current cadets and all of the high school students in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin hoping to prepare to serve their nation in the Army following completion of their college degrees are being punished by this decision, and we will not take that lightly.
"The Upper Peninsula is an area that, both historically and currently, has an extremely high level of military service and this is not the way the U.S. Army should repay that tradition of service."
This past summer, 11 cadets of the NMU ROTC Wildcat Battalion earned professional development opportunities and another 11 attended the Leader Development and Assessment Course or Army schools, such as Airborne or Air Assault. It was the largest number of summer training seats NMU cadets had ever earned.
The notification letter received by NMU administrators said, "This action is not a reflection of either the quality of your program or the outstanding cadets you have produced."
"We want a clear explanation of the methodology used in the decision-making, especially why so many rural institutions are on the list," Haynes said. "Northern has seen growth in the number of officers commissioned over the past five years. We've also had numerous occasions when our cadets ranked among the best in the nation at U.S. Army ROTC leadership and training camps. We want a clear and reasonable explanation as to why they would eliminate NMU's program when it is so cost effective in developing officers."
Because of its low tuition - the second lowest in the state of Michigan - NMU may be one of the least expensive universities to host an Army ROTC program, said Haynes, costing the federal government and the U.S. Army far less money to produce a high- quality officer. In addition, NMU works closely with its ROTC faculty to provide training facilities not always made available at other universities, at little to no cost.
Although NMU's program is affiliated with the U.S. Army, it also receives funding from the Michigan Guard Assistance program and from NMU tuition and fees generated from students taking military science courses, but not receiving Army or Michigan Guard tuition assistance.
There are 273 Army ROTC programs in the United States, including seven in Michigan.