New Naval ROTC unit to draw students from across state

Yale’s new Naval ROTC unit slated to start in the fall of 2012 won’t just serve Elis: The unit will be the only one of its kind in the state.

The new unit, which will activate almost 40 years after ROTC left Yale’s campus, will be open to Elis as well as students from other Connecticut colleges and universities. Announcement of Yale and the Navy’s agreement to start the unit drew positive reactions from faculty and students involved in ROTC negotiations, as well as other U.S. legislators from Connecticut.

“I’m delighted to have Navy ROTC return to Yale after a long hiatus,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in an email to the News Thursday. “This agreement marks a new day for Yale.”

The announcement comes after a semester of negotiations with the military. Soon after Congress voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — the policy prohibiting gay and lesbian armed forces members from serving openly — in December 2010, University President Richard Levin announced that administrators would begin talks with the armed forces.

A faculty committee appointed by Miller met in April and recommended changing four faculty resolutions passed in 1969 that contributed to ROTC’s original departure from campus by the early 1970s. Engineering professor Gary Haller, who chaired Miller’s faculty committee, said in a Thursday interview that the the return of a Naval ROTC unit — instead of a unit representing a different branch — to Yale exceeded his personal expectations.

“I would hope because of the kinds of officers that the Navy is interested in, they might develop programs that take advantage of [Yale’s] courses in the science and engineering,” Haller said.

He added that because the Yale unit will be the only Naval ROTC unit in the state, it will attract enough students from both Yale and other schools to fill a program. Because the Naval unit will be the only one in the state, Haller said he thinks it may draw 10 to 20 students from other schools to participate, in addition to Elis.

Since December, a Yale College Council committee has advocated for the return of ROTC. At that time the committee shared with administrators the results of a student body survey showing that 70 percent of students expressed support for ROTC’s return. Seven of 10 students interviewed by the News Thursday expressed support for the announcement given the demand to participate in such a program.

YCC Representative James Campbell ’13, who chaired the committee, said in a Thursday email to the News that Yale demonstrated “considerable leadership” in creating an opportunity for its students to serve the nation. Campbell added that the new unit will also help to build relationships with nearby universities, whose students may also participate in the Naval ROTC program at Yale.

“What happened today is a remarkable victory for both Yale and America,” he said.

YCC President Brandon Levin ’13 also expressed support for the new unit in an email to the News but added that because the military still does not allow transgender individuals to serve, he hopes that on-campus participation in ROTC will “lead to socially responsible discourse regarding transgender individuals in the military.”

In Washington, three Connecticut legislators in the U.S. Congress — senators Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 and Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, and Representative Rosa DeLauro — praised the announcement in separate statements released over the course of the day.

“Yale graduates have a long and distinguished history of public service,” Lieberman said. “The return of ROTC to campus will provide Yale students new opportunities to use their immense talents to serve and defend our country.”

The Yale NROTC unit will enter a partnership with the unit at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts to share staff and other resources.

Jordi Gassó and Grace Patuwo contributed reporting.


  • williamsonday

    My ancestors include a famous Yale naval aviator, a grandfather who was career Navy and served in WW II, and a father who participated in Naval ROTC at Yale (before switching to the Air Force). Nevertheless, it is with very mixed feelings that I see the administration welcoming the war machine back on campus, particularly when I contemplate Professor Paul Kennedy’s lessons on imperial overstretch and the current uses to which our military is being put in the Middle East.

  • The Anti-Yale


    Infiltrate and subvert.

    It may be that a few high placed Yalies who understand freedom of thought might do the military some good, although freedom of thought once EXPRESSED got General McChrystal into trouble.

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