When the Reserve Officers Training Corps program returns to campus next fall, some courses will count for both ROTC and Yale College credit, University President Richard Levin told the News Monday night.
All students taking courses offered by ROTC programs will have those courses appear on their transcripts as “enrollment credits,” but only classes approved by the Course of Study Committee and the Yale College faculty will count toward degrees, according to an April report by the Faculty Committee on ROTC, which recommended the program’s return. Levin said in an email that “specially designed” courses — like those being designed by history professor Paul Kennedy — would count both toward students’ degrees and ROTC requirements, but he said most ROTC courses will not count for Yale College credit. Administrators said they could not speculate which other new ROTC courses, if any, might meet the specifications of the Course of Study Committee.
Dean of Undergraduate Education Joseph Gordon said the committee has yet to receive any proposals for new ROTC classes, adding that only courses that meet Yale’s rigorous academic standards would be approved.
“It is not a cookie-cutter approach,” Gordon said. “We have courses in our curriculum that vary widely in their subject matter, their pedagogical methods, and their purpose, so we have to take many factors into account.”
Andrew Hendricks ’14, who travels to the University of Connecticut once per week as the only Air Force ROTC cadet at Yale, said students would be more likely to join a ROTC program at Yale if the University granted graduation credit for ROTC courses. Still, he said, absence of accreditation would not discourage the most committed cadets from joining the program.
“What motivates me is that I want to serve my country,” he said. “Even if I don’t get academic credit, it wouldn’t change that.”
Yale historian Gaddis Smith ’54 GRD ’61 told the News in April that the resolutions passed by the faculty in 1969, which led to ROTC’s departure from campus, were motivated by the long-standing debate over the course credit given to ROTC students.
Yale’s peer institutions that offer ROTC vary widely in policies for awarding ROTC courses credit. The Committee on ROTC considered procedures at universities in the Ivy League, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when determining what shape Yale’s program should take for the April report.
Of these universities, only the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell and MIT award credit for ROTC courses, but the amount of accredited classes differs significantly across the schools. None of the ROTC courses at Princeton count toward degrees, while most ROTC courses at Cornell do, according to the report. At Cornell, high-level courses receive three credit hours, but courses taken during cadets’ first two years count for only one.
Levin said that the majority of the mandatory ROTC classes would not meet the standard of approval for the Course of Study Committee.
“The regular ROTC courses do not have workloads at or near the level of Yale courses,” Levin said.
Lieutenant Austin Rasbach, a Naval ROTC lecturer at the College of the Holy Cross, said that some of Naval ROTC’s introductory courses serve as an “orientation” to the Navy and cover simple subjects such as ranking, pay grade and job opportunities within the Navy.
Hendricks said while he thinks the introductory ROTC courses are far easier than Yale courses and do not merit Yale credit, the more advanced upperclassman courses, AS 300 Air Force Leadership Studies and AS 400 National Security Affairs, are more challenging and worthy of receiving Yale credit. At MIT, only one Naval ROTC course, NS 401 Leadership and Management, counts for credit.
Three undergraduate schools at the University of Pennsylvania — the Wharton School of Business, School of Nursing and School of Engineering and Applied Science — offer credit for at least one ROTC course, but the College of Arts and Sciences does not. Dennis DeTurck, dean of the College of Arts and Science at Penn, said none of the ROTC courses meet the academic standards of the college.
“This decision was based in part on examination of the specific content of the courses as well as on the fact that the syllabi of the courses are imposed from outside the university,” he said.
Gordon said he is optimistic about Yale’s ROTC program at Yale because military officials who have visited campus “believe that the military decision makers and leadership of the future should not be just trained but broadly educated and that they should take full advantage of the range of subjects and intellectual opportunities that a place like Yale offers its students.”
One of the frequent criticisms of ROTC curricula is that they focus too heavily on vocational training rather than on liberal arts. But VADM John Richardson, Yale’s Navy ROTC sponsor and commander of the U.S. Submarine Forces, told a group of administrators and students at a Thursday visit to the Provost’s Office that one of the Navy’s modern challenges is building diplomatic connections around the world, something Yale’s liberal arts influences would help to teach.
“If you can’t build trust and confidence across cultural boundaries, both in the Navy and across states, you aren’t worth that much to me,” Richardson said. “I’ve got a lot of technicians, but that’s not what I need. I need leadership, which operates on a much higher level.”
Yale’s original Naval ROTC was founded in 1926, one of the six naval programs. Air Force ROTC was founded at Yale in 1946.