Town & Gown:
JSU Has Been Producing Army Officers Since 1948
By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown
A few days ago, Army 2nd Lt. Riley Davis dropped by the JSU
campus to visit old friends and faculty mentors. Some may remember Riley; others
may have never met or noticed this unassuming young man around campus.
Riley graduated from JSU in April 2007, earning his bachelor of arts in
history and a commission as an Army officer through JSU’s Army Reserve Officers’
Training Corps (ROTC) program. His visit to JSU was short, as he had only six
days before he had to report to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell,
He expects to stay at Fort Campbell a few weeks before deploying for a
15-month combat tour to Iraq. Riley’s newlywed bride, Leigh Ellen, plans to
return to her hometown of Albertville in the coming weeks to stay with family
until Riley’s return.
Jacksonville State University is committed to the development of leadership
in a free and democratic society. One of our university’s responsibilities is to
educate, train and develop officers to lead our nation’s Army. It is a job JSU
has performed consistently well, in times of peace and in times of war, since
The U.S. Army depends on ROTC programs, like the program at JSU, to produce
between 60-65 percent of the officer leadership needed in the Army.
“Think of officers as the corporate management of the U.S. Army,” says Lt.
Col. Chip Hester, professor of Military Science at JSU. “Officers run
organizations and shoulder the responsibility of everything that happens or
fails to happen within an Army unit.”
“They are responsible for maintaining the good order and discipline of
soldiers, for managing millions of dollars of equipment and resources,
establishing priorities, and for ensuring their units are always ready to
perform their assigned missions. More importantly, Army officers lead and
inspire their soldiers to accomplish difficult tasks, sometimes under very
A typical 2nd lieutenant graduating from JSU is 22 years old and is prepared
to lead an Army organization of around 40 soldiers anywhere in the world. Within
four years of graduating, that same officer, now an Army captain, can expect to
lead an organization of between 100-250 soldiers.
“That is a heavy responsibility that can come at you fast,” says Hester.
Since 1948, JSU has produced more than 1,400 officers for the U.S. Army and
today is a leading producer of quality Army officers among four-year
universities in the Southeastern United States.
“In the past two years, JSU has produced more Army officers than any other
four-year university in Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana. This is a remarkable
achievement for a university of JSU’s comparative size,” states Hester.
While ROTC courses teach and develop disciplined leadership, management and
decision-making skills, the most important skills officers need are developed
daily in classrooms across campus by university faculty.
“The Army needs officers who can think creatively, who can question and
analyze, reason and solve complex problems, who can communicate effectively, and
who are not afraid to work hard and learn. American soldiers deserve competent
leadership and the Army’s longtime partnership with Jacksonville State
University continues to produce great officers to meet that need,” says Hester.
2nd Lt. Riley Davis is one of those great young Army officers. He will
redeploy back to the U.S. sometime in early 2009. We should all pause and
remember Riley and the many other JSU alumni and members of our community who
today are deployed in the service of our country.
Our prayers and best wishes go out to these men and women and to their
families. They all serve our nation faithfully, as have the generations of
soldiers and JSU graduates who have gone before them.
For more information on the Army ROTC program at JSU, visit www.rotc.jsu.edu
or call (256) 782-5601.
Lieutenant Colonel Henry “Chip” M. Hester, Jr., JSU’s Professor of
Military Science, and Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the office of
Marketing and Communications, contributed to this article.
About William A. Meehan
Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville
State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com
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