Light & Verity

Naval ROTC will return in 2012

Michael Marsland

Michael Marsland

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Yale president Richard Levin ’74PhD shake hands after signing an ROTC agreement. View full image

Champagne flowed, a brass band played “Anchors Aweigh,” and U.S. Navy uniforms were conspicuously on display in Woodbridge Hall on May 26: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus had come to campus to sign an agreement that will bring a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps detachment back to Yale in the fall of 2012. Forty years after a set of faculty resolutions essentially forced ROTC programs off the Yale campus, it was as if the administration wanted to leave no doubt that the military is now welcome at Yale.

The Navy is the first branch of the service to return to Yale since the faculty—spurred by the repeal in December of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuality—passed a new set of resolutions on May 5 to accommodate ROTC’s return. To reduce costs, the unit at Yale will be part of a consortium with the existing detachment at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, but all the unit’s activities will take place on the Yale campus. As the only NROTC detachment in Connecticut, it will welcome students from other public and private colleges in the state.

At the signing, Yale president Richard Levin ’74PhD said the university and the Navy will work over the next year to recruit applicants to Yale and other colleges who have an interest in ROTC. Levin also said that the university is in talks with the Army and the Air Force about bringing units back to Yale.

Secretary Mabus spoke of the importance of officer training at elite liberal arts–based universities, both to provide candidates with critical thinking skills and to expose other future leaders to military culture. “At a time when only one percent of America wears the uniform of America,” he said, “interaction with ROTC cadets may be the only interaction with the military that people at Yale get.”

A group of alumni has been pushing for ROTC’s return for a decade. Fred Nagle ’66, cofounder of the newly formed Yale Veterans Association, attended the signing in Woodbridge Hall. “This is something I’ve been waiting for for 40 years, literally,” says Nagle, a former ROTC cadet. “I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to walk into that reception.”   

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