Continued from page 1

Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said there has been an upward trend in ROTC unit enrollment over the past few years.

Army ROTC participation has increased from 25,180 in 2007 to 33,555 for 2010. Naval and Marine ROTC has increased from 6,299 to 7,724 in 2010. The Air Force ROTC has jumped to 15,478 from 13,144 in 2007.

ROTC programs are also prime training grounds for the nation’s next generation of military leaders. Pentagon figures show that ROTC graduates constitute 56 percent of all Army officers, 41 percent of Air Force officers, 20 percent of Navy officers and 11 percent of U.S. Marine Corps officers.

There are 327 higher-education schools hosting ROTC programs, and many have more than one service unit. Cornell, for example, has Army, Navy, and Air Force host units.

Princeton, with 40 students in its program, is a host university that has kept its program intact. The ROTC program is not an academic department, but falls under the “residential life” department.

Other schools offer students an opportunity to take ROTC courses at a host university. Ms. Lainez said that nearly 1,800 schools have affiliations with the primary host schools. For example, Stanford’s 11 students on ROTC scholarships take their military courses at Santa Clara University, the University of California at Berkeley and San Jose State University.

The return of ROTC to Stanford would carry a particular symbolism because of the fiery way in which the military/academic program left.

Anti-war demonstrators burned down the Navy ROTC building on campus in 1968. Two years later, Stanford stopped giving credit for ROTC curriculum courses, citing what administrators said was the low academic rigor of the classes. The ROTC program was banished from the campus in 1973.

Mr. Kennedy said that politics and academic standards both played a role in the decision to boot ROTC. “The protest against ROTC became a protest of war,” he said.

The faculty committee studying reinstatement will be in charge of evaluating academic quality. Mr. Kennedy said that Stanford probably will want a role in the faculty appointments of those who teach the ROTC courses.

The Pentagon’s Ms. Lainez said the military services have not approached a large number of schools in the post-Vietnam era to open new ROTC programs.

“The current infrastructure is sufficient to both produce the desired number of commissionees, and … there is abundant opportunity for interested students to participate,” she said.

Mr. Kennedy said the “don’t ask, don’t tell” issue still could prove a hurdle for Stanford, but is considering action by the Obama administration to end the policy in the near future. Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, earlier this month introduced a bill to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” citing in part what he says is its negative effect on ROTC programs.

“If ROTC can’t recruit on campus, we do not have the opportunity to get other kinds of people on campus into the military …,” Mr. Lieberman told reporters March 3. “They tie together.”

Mr. Kennedy agreed that the elimination of “don’t ask, don’t tell” would help the reinstatement cause at Stanford.

Story Continues →