TAMIU, LCC Welcome Back ROTC Program After 30 Years

Interest in joining the military faded among the youth after the Vietnam War. But with the new Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program at Texas A&M International University and Laredo Community College, this gap of nearly 30 years is about to start closing with military leaders being trained for the future.

The joint ROTC program will be offered starting Fall 2003 in partnership with LCC and TAMIU. Students may register at any time leading up to the first day of Fall 2003 classes.

TAMIU President Dr. Ray Keck said the University is excited to welcome the ROTC program back to campus.

"We are happy to welcome the ROTC program home. The program offers many scholarship opportunities and teaches leadership skills that students can utilize in any career," said Dr. Keck, "Students who become a part of this program will be addressing the needs that exist locally for trained officers."

Dr. Ramón Dovalina, LCC president and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, noted the major impact that the new military science program will have for the region.

"LCC is also pleased to build a program that combines military skills with career skills which benefit our students throughout their lifetime," said Dovalina, "A military-based program which allows students to continue their studies, rather than interrupt them, is an excellent option for many young people in our area."

Major Mary Payton, assistant professor of military science, will direct the four-year program at TAMIU, divided into two levels. The LCC program will be directed by Sergeant Major Ricky Burts.

The ROTC program, known for its ability to develop superior leadership skills, will serve a major local need for military officers, Payton said.

"I expect the program will grow every year because we have not had a local program that produces officers for over 30 years, although the military presence is strong in Laredo with units of the U.S. Army Reserves and the U.S. National Guard being active," she said.

Years ago, TAMIU, then known as Laredo State University, offered ROTC courses under the direction of former Capt. José García. However, the program was closed after interest in the military dropped among students.

García, now vice president of finance and administration at TAMIU, said he is thrilled the program is being restored at the College and University.

"I think that it's excellent that we are reopening the program. ROTC offers many scholarship opportunities and secondly, it provides a way to commission officers that will go to the U.S. National Guard and reserve units that are in Laredo," he said, "It's great training for young people no matter what career they choose to go into."

Payton explained that the program is divided into lower and upper divisions. The lower division is open to all freshmen and sophomores, but the upper division is only available to students who meet pre-requisites.

Those interested in enrolling for the upper division must be full-time students, have approximately two years remaining in their degree plan and maintain a minimum 2.0 G.P.A. They must also meet medical fitness requirements and have taken lower division courses, she said.

Students in the program graduate under their chosen degree plan, but may choose military science as their minor, she said.

For further information about the ROTC program at TAMIU, please contact Maj. Mary Payton at 326-2387, e-mail mpayton@tamiu.edu or visit her office in the Western Hemispheric Trade Center, room 222D. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information about the ROTC program at LCC, please contact Sgt. Maj. Ricky Burts, Military Science Instructor, by calling 764-5769 or 764-5767.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu