Topeka While many new students are donning Kansas college colors this fall, more are also wearing green.
Officials at Kansas and Kansas State universities report an increase of at least 20 percent in the number of Army ROTC cadets on campus this semester.
Nationally, there are 30,721 Army ROTC cadets.
Enrollment at Kansas State’s Manhattan campus, which is within 30 minutes of Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division, is 155 this fall, compared with 124 last fall. Lt. Col. George Belin, professor of military science and head of Kansas State’s Army ROTC program, says cadets are matched with older students who act as mentors.
“Before they even come to K-State, we give them the personal attention that they need,” Belin said. “Once they’re here, ROTC becomes more than something they do. They become part of the family.”
Fall enrollment at KU jumped from 82 to 103 cadets. The bulk of the increase was in freshman through junior classes, which went from 59 to 89 — a 51 percent boost.
Lt. Col. John Basso, head of the program, expects the overall number to be 110 cadets in the spring, which would be a 20-year high for the university.
“We attribute the growth to the continued desire young people show to serve as Army officers, as well as the increase in scholarship funding we have received both from the federal government and from the Kansas Army National Guard,” Basso said.
The Army also has increased the size of its staff at KU, which Basso said allows teaching at Washburn University and MidAmerica Nazarene University, two of the seven other colleges that are part of the KU program.
There also are six ROTC cadets at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence; there were none last year.
Paul Kotakis, spokesman for the Army Cadet Command, said the enrollment growth was likely a combination of the scholarship opportunities, leadership training and family experience with the military. However, he also said ROTC ranks have been growing because the Army is growing, as well.
“It’s not really possible to point to a single factor. There are number of primary factors that attract people to the program,” he said.
ROTC enrollment has fluctuated this decade from a low of 24,312 in 2005-06 to a high of 30,824 in 2002-03. The program began in 1916.