Sept. 16, 1997
KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University is making it a little easier for some 40,000 college students in Grand Rapids and surrounding counties to obtain a commission in the U.S. Army.
WMU's Department of Military Science has begun offering its two-year and four-year Army ROTC programs at the University's Grand Rapids Regional Center, 2333 East Beltline S.E. Until now, eligible students in cities such as Muskegon, Holland and Grand Rapids had to travel south to WMU's Kalamazoo campus or north to Big Rapids or Mount Pleasant to find a university that offers ROTC.
"During the last academic year, about half a dozen ROTC students from Grand Rapids and the lakeshore commuted to Kalamazoo," said Capt. Curtis J. Royer, WMU assistant professor of military science. "They were driving down here sometimes twice a week all year long. Offering our programs at a site in Grand Rapids makes ROTC more convenient for some of our current students and more accessible for students considering taking Army ROTC."
Completion of the two-year or four-year ROTC program leads to an officer's commission in the Army Reserve, Army National Guard or Regular Army. Both programs require one class each semester.
ROTC students may earn their bachelor's degree at WMU or one of several West Michigan higher education institutions that have a partnership agreement with WMU ROTC, Royer said. These institutions include Hope College in Holland; Muskegon Community College; Grand Valley State University in Allendale; and Calvin, Aquinas, Davenport, and Grand Rapids Community colleges in Grand Rapids.
Royer said the ROTC classes being offered in Grand Rapids are the same as those WMU offers in
Kalamazoo and are taught by the same instructors. These instructors, as well as the chairperson of the Department of Military Science, are either commissioned or noncommissioned Army officers who are assigned to the military science department by permission of WMU.
"Because we're such a small academic unit, we have small classes and can arrange convenient class schedules," Royer said. "We've tried to build that into our Grand Rapids programs."
WMU began offering Army ROTC courses in 1950 in conjunction with the government effort to provide college-trained military officers. Currently, about 100 students take military science courses through the University each year. Since the Department of Military Science was established, it has commissioned more than 1,200 college graduates as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
Royer said one popular feature of enrolling in Army ROTC is the availability of two-, three- and four-year government scholarships to attend college. These competitive awards cover all tuition and include substantial stipends for fees, books and living expenses. In addition, WMU also offers $1,000 scholarships for two and three years as incentive for ROTC students to pursue their college degree at the University.
"We award thousands of dollars in scholarships every year, and this summer, the army even had more two-year scholarships than eligible applicants," Royer said.
Applications for ROTC scholarships may be downloaded from WMU's World Wide Web site by accessing the military science department's home page (http://www.wmich.edu/rotc/).
Other popular features of ROTC are the civilian education and officer commission that students receive and the jobs that await graduates, Royer said.
"In addition, we develop the skills that employers of the 21st century demand," he said. "And ROTC programs, unlike other officer-producing programs, maintain our country's strong tradition of service to the nation and the citizen-soldier."
For more information about Army ROTC opportunities, call Royer at 1-800-WMU-ROTC or call Aaron Molenda, admissions specialist at WMU's Grand Rapids Regional Center, at 616 771-9470.
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