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Cali Owings, Published October 04 2013

NDSU will lose its ROTC program

FARGO – North Dakota State University will close its Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. program by the end of the 2014-15 academic year, school officials announced Friday.

Many of the program’s younger students who won’t graduate before then face a difficult choice: transfer to another school or find another way to pay for college.

Army Lt. Col. Ted Preister, who oversees the Army ROTC program at NDSU, said he broke the news to his cadets, known as the “Bison Battalion,” on Thursday night.

In the last two years, 30 percent of Bison Battalion cadets earned the distinguished military graduate honor, signifying they are among the top 20 percent of Army ROTC cadets in the nation.

The school was notified in a letter from the Army that it was among 13 programs of 273 nationwide that will be eliminated.

Despite the 93-year-old program’s successes, the Army is closing programs that produce the fewest graduates in an effort to be more efficient with resources.

Options for students

There are 72 students enrolled in NDSU’s Army ROTC program through the Tri-College University, which also includes Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead. While 33 of those students are expected to graduate before the program’s closure, the remaining 39 students will have the option to transfer to another school that offers Army ROTC.

Members who are also in the North Dakota National Guard can continue to have their education paid for at NDSU after the program’s closure.

Preister said he’s meeting with each of his students one-on-one to discuss options and to find the right program for each cadet.

He said based on his experience with all of the young men and women in program, most will choose to complete the Army ROTC program elsewhere where they’ll be commissioned as an Army lieutenant upon graduation.

Regionally, students could choose to attend the University of North Dakota, Minnesota State University Mankato, St. John’s University or the University of Minnesota where Army ROTC programs remain open.

Preister will help students identify and apply to other programs that are a good fit for the majors they want to pursue and their personality.

“It will be a personal failure if I don’t get each of them to the right place and I am not going to let that happen,” Preister said.

The five Army-employed ROTC program staff members, including Preister, will be reassigned unless they find different jobs or retire.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599