A few changes are in store this semester for officer training programs at Kansas University.
The Army program is trying to get more outside scholarship funding. The Navy program is getting a new commanding officer. And the Air Force is opening up more pilot slots.
That's what's in store during the coming academic year for the Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs at Kansas University, according to those in charge of the programs.
KU is a host campus for ROTC programs, which are headquartered in KU's Military Science Building.
Keeping them in state
Lt. Col. Ron Nicholl, who is in charge of the Army program, said one of the program's goals is to increase the number of students with ROTC scholarships who choose to come to KU, Nicholl said.
"The news is, our numbers are up overall, slightly," Nicholl said. But what's "really alarming" is that Kansas high school students who are winning three- and four-year ROTC scholarships are taking those scholarships and going to schools outside of Kansas, he said.
The reason: Several out-of-state schools are offering free room and board with their scholarships.
Nicholl is working with the dean of engineering to try to provide incentives for those students to stay in the state.
For example, if a student who has won a four-year ROTC scholarship is looking at KU, then the engineering school might be able to offer the student some additional money to make KU more attractive.
Because of military downsizing, fewer scholarships are being offered, Nicholl said, and operating money is tight. He said his office will lose one staff position, which will mean reshuffling some personnel duties.
One of the big changes this year will be that the ROTC program at KU will be offered to Haskell students. Currently, students at Baker University in Baldwin, Washburn University in Topeka, Mid-America Nazarene College in Olathe and St. Mary's in Leavenworth can take ROTC courses at KU.
Haskell is coming into the program this year because the school is offering a four-year degree, which would allow students to be commissioned as officers, Nicholl said.
Several military veterans and National Guardsmen at Haskell are interested in the officer training program.
The Army ROTC program will celebrate its 75th year on KU's campus with a ceremony set for 4:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Military Science Building.
Nicholl said several dignitaries have been invited to the ceremony. There will also be displays of early ROTC uniforms from the KU Archives and displays of period military weapons from Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.
New Navy CO
The main change this year in the Navy's program will be a change of command.
Commander Grant Caughey, who has been at KU's program since the end of May, will turn over the command of the program to Capt. Pat Fagan during a ceremony in early September.
Caughey, who will remain at KU in the No. 2 position, was serving as the interim commander this summer, following the retirement of Capt. James Hough.
Fagan has been stationed in San Diego as commanding officer of the USS Ogden.
"Both he and I are graduates of the NROTC program at KU," Hough said. "He graduated in 1966 and I graduated in 1974. We're both excited about getting back in Jayhawk territory."
Caughey had been assigned in the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.
Caughey said they expect about 100 officer candidates in the program this year, with few changes in the program. Many are scholarship students and some are Navy enlisted personnel who have been selected to obtain a bachelor's degree and a subsequent commission, he said.
Caughey said he didn't see the military downsizing effort affecting the Navy program beyond what they have already experienced.
"ROTC is still a critical source for obtaining commissions for future naval officers. So I really don't see a lot of units shutting down nationwide," Caughey said. "At KU we have a pretty solid program and are not in danger of going away."
More pilot slots
KU's Air Force ROTC program will see its program increase slightly to about 60 cadets this year, said Capt. Brad Gentry, who is in charge of the program this summer.
"There will be a lot more pilot slots," he said.
He said those graduating in December and the following May will have the opportunity to get one of the 190 to 200 new Air Force pilot slots opening up nationwide. The following year it will jump to 250 pilot slots, he said.
He said that one of the reasons the Air Force program has dipped in recent years was because pilot slots were down because of downsizing of the military.
"A lot of people come into the Air Force program are looking to fly," he said. "Now is the time to start looking at that again."
He said the Air Force will continue to offer the Professional Officers Course Incentive scholarship, which offers students who join the program in their last two years of college $1,000 each semester, plus $100 a month.
That program began the middle of last year.
"Other than that, the program is going to run about the same," he said.