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Clayton State to offer ROTC in the fall

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Army cadets jogging across the Clayton State University campus will become a familiar sight at the school in five months.

The university will begin offering an Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) in August 2008.

The program is a collaboration between Clayton State University and Georgia State University. Students will be able to take their first two years of ROTC training at Clayton State, and then take the remaining two years at Georgia State, which has a full, four-year ROTC program.

The move is just the first step toward establishing a full ROTC program at Clayton State. The university could have its own full-fledged program within three years, if the expected student interest is realized.

If the program thrives, Clayton State could become a "host school," which helps other colleges start up their own ROTC programs, within five years.

"Clayton State has a lot of potential to have a large program," said Col. Kevin Anderson, a professor of military science at Georgia State. He also is one of the liaisons helping to establish an ROTC program at Clayton State.

"The potential is [here,] its a growing school. It's putting in dorms. It's also a totally wireless campus, where everyone has a laptop, which is very cutting edge. They also have a very good nursing program," said Col. Anderson.

Earlier this month, Anderson, Clayton State officials and Col. Chuck Waggoner, the university's ROTC cadre (program leader), presented Clayton State's first ROTC scholarship to Oriskany Carr, a senior at Chapel Hill High School in Douglasville. Carr's scholarship is worth $33,528.

If Clayton State is able to get 30 people to participate in the program this fall, the Army will consider giving the school a full, four-year program. Anderson said this could happen by 2011.

Then, if the school can produce at least nine officers every year, after it becomes a four-year program, Clayton State would be eligible for "host school" status, the colonel added.

The ROTC program is available to any student who wants to participate in it for the first two years. If a student wants to continue participating in the program, he or she will have to sign a contract with the Army at the beginning of his or her junior year.

The junior year is spent doing squad-level training, because the cadet is sent to a leadership development training session during the summer at Ft. Lewis in Washington state. The cadet works with other cadets in squads, and his or her leadership abilities are assessed during the summer program.

Signing the contract at the beginning of the junior year means the student is obligated to give four years of active duty service in the Army, and four years of inactive duty, after he or she graduates from college.

"We ask them to enter into a contract because, by the junior years, we are starting to invest a lot of money into the student," Anderson said.

Dr. Mannie Hall, the director of academic outreach at Clayton State, said school officials have been planning the program for the last 18 months.

Hall, a retired Army sergeant major, said the ROTC cadets will be part of a student body already honored by U.S. News and World Report for it's diverse population.

"[University President Dr. Thomas K. Harden] wants to see the cadets fully involved in campus life," Hall said. "One of the huge things you'll see is the ROTC students will infiltrate every major ... They will be in full uniform a couple of times a week, and just imagine, every morning at about 6 a.m., you'll see them doing physical training, such as pushups, situps and jogging around campus."