FORT KNOX, Ky. (May 22, 2013) -- The City College of New York on Tuesday called on one of its favorite sons to help announce the return of the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps, or ROTC, to campus.

Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, a CCNY alum and product of Army ROTC, delivered the keynote address at the historic ceremony to mark ROTC's return to the college after more than 40 years.

Powell served as the appropriate advocate to promote the new partnership, given his background of humble means and the impressive way he applied his education from CCNY and ROTC to become the military's top general officer and ultimately secretary of state.

One of Powell's many inspirational messages to cadets, cadre and university administrators regarded his early assessment of the Army, and how being a minority is irrelevant when it comes to achievement.

"The Army doesn't care about color; if you can perform, then you'll be successful," said the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "I'm deeply moved and touched my alma mater will again be developing future Army leaders."

Lisa S. Coico, Ph.D., president of CCNY, quoted from Powell's book "My American Journey," when pointing out the status of City College's ROTC program when he was a Cadet as once the largest in the United States. In 1971 the college's Faculty Senate voted to sever ties with the Army in protest to the Vietnam War, like other colleges at the time.

Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, hailed the new partnership as opportunity to bring back a great tradition.

"This is a partnership we've been waiting to implement," said Smith, who originally directed the new partnership be implemented next year, but changed his mind after visiting the campus. "There's a tremendous pool of talent and diversity in New York City, and Army ROTC is seeking unrivaled academic excellence."

Cadet Command's new partnership with the City University of New York, a system of 24 colleges located across the city, started last fall when Army ROTC began teaching classes at York College in Queens and at St. John's Campus on Staten Island. Army ROTC classes will also begin at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn in January.

The goal for Army ROTC is to produce an officer corps that reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of America. Obtaining the right balance of new second lieutenants will equal the right balance of senior officers in 2030 and beyond.