When Kansas University Army ROTC cadets do most of their internal battalion training, they don’t have to go far to experience a major military base.
The cadets often spend weekends at Fort Leavenworth, which is just 40 miles northeast of Lawrence. And once a year in a joint exercise with cadets from other universities, KU students head west about 110 miles to Fort Riley.
“It definitely increases the awareness the cadets have of what a military environment looks like,” said Lt. Col. John Clark, the admissions and scholarships officer for the KU Army ROTC. “It gives them a little bit of familiarity and helps them with their expectations in the future.”
The field training is one example of how KU benefits from being close to both forts, and it’s a relationship that grows almost every year, said Mike Denning, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel and KU’s director of graduate military programs.
In one of the newest additions, the Army this fall will send four Special Forces officers to KU to educate them in KU’s Center for Global and International Studies so the officers can earn a doctorate in political science, Denning said.
“We were one of two universities selected for that,” he said.
KU also recently received a grant that will provide scholarships to allow ROTC cadets and midshipmen to participate in language training through the Department of Slavic Languages and Center for East Asian Studies.
“This is a program that will try to get as many ROTC cadets and midshipmen to these critical languages and training them,” Denning said.
Clark said KU and Fort Leavenworth, which is home to the Army’s Commander and General Staff College, have benefited from each other in recent years.
For example, Denning said the master’s degree program with a concentration in supply chain management at the School of Business, taught by KU lecturer Greg Freix, has continued to expand since it was first offered in 2008. Fort Leavenworth officers learn business principles that become a necessity once they leave and take a command somewhere else in the world.
And the business school operates an executive leadership program in which Army colonels undergo training for one week, including on business principles.
The School of Journalism has also developed a strong relationship with Fort Leavenworth, including its “Military in the Media” course that allows KU students and officers to spend time together in the classroom learning about the culture of the Army, the media and both entities’ roles in democracy. The McCormick Foundation has funded the program.
Denning said KU’s relationship overall with Fort Leavenworth and the military adds depth for both the university and the service members who get an outside perspective on the military.
“For the Fort Leavenworth students, there are certain disciplines that they reach out for to the university because the university has a core strength in providing that level of education,” he said. “It really is a part of our strategic plan for the university to reach out to the military.”