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ST. LOUIS — “Today has been kind of a long day coming, but the opportunity to travel to the great city of St. Louis and present this award in person was worth the wait,” said Maj. Gen. John R. Evans Jr., Commanding General of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, as he opened the ceremony to present the inaugural Department of Defense ROTC and Higher Educational Institution Partnership Excellence Award to both Washington University in St. Louis and the Gateway Battalion, Monday, March 15.
The award made its debut in 2020, however the COVID-19 pandemic forced a delay in the presentation of the first award from the Department of Defense recognizing the outstanding ROTC unit and host educational institution for each military department. The award is based on accomplishments in three broad categories: program performance, educational institution support and other noteworthy achievements.
During the 2018-2019 school year, the Gateway Battalion commissioned 23 new officers for the Active component, Army Reserve and Army National Guard, producing two Top 10% Cadets and eight Distinguished Military Graduates. The battalion’s preparation of its junior class for Cadet Summer Training 2019 (CST2019) ensured 100% successfully completed Advanced Camp at Fort Knox with one Cadet earning 6th Regiment’s “Bold Spirit Leadership Award.”
The Battalion also partnered with Brig. Gen. (Retired) E. Tracy Beckette, Missouri’s Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, to host a Junior and Senior ROTC mentorship event with six JROTC programs in the St. Louis area. Additionally, the battalion supported local events encouraging scholarship, diversity and service including the Missouri Association of Student Councils’ 2019 State Leadership Conference, the Infinite Scholars program, the National Science Teachers Association Conference and the U.S. Army High School Challenge at Fort Zumwalt High School.
“None of our ROTC programs however, operate in a vacuum. Their success is borne out of teamwork and strength and unity with their host universities,” Evans noted.
Washington University’s support of its Army ROTC program has been exceptional. The university provides financial support to the program, including 15 room and board grants annually for the Army ROTC’s 4-year national scholarship winners and 16 matching grants for campus-based scholarship winners as well as provided funds to convert a storage facility into a gym, enabling Cadets to prepare for the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
The partnership with Washington University is also grounded in academic excellence and a commitment to service.
“I am so proud to be Washington University’s Chancellor today,” said Chancellor Andrew D. Martin. “This is an incredible achievement, and a fine testament to the strength of the program that has been built on this campus, and across St. Louis, for many generations. I can tell you that at Washington University, we are extremely proud of the ROTC’s long and steadfast history of excellence, dating back more than a century on this campus. The Gateway Army ROTC battalion’s existence adds immense value to our community. And I believe our entire community is enriched by the thriving program’s presence.”
The university integrates Army ROTC into its communications to all students, ensuring all admitted freshmen receive a letter from Army ROTC while each admitted engineering student receives a letter and an email describing Army ROTC benefits and the program’s relationship to the university.
Washington University retains 97% of its freshman class and 57% of graduates earn degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). As a result, over 30% of the battalion’s commissioned Officers graduated with STEM degrees. Additionally, the battalion supports a robust nursing program, and its Cadet population is almost 45% female.
Over the past few years, the Gateway Battalion has expanded its efforts to reach all the St. Louis-area schools, and plans for an extension center at Lindenwood University were completed in 2020.
The Army ROTC program and higher education institute award for the U.S. Army was selected from the eight schools who were winners of the 2019 MacArthur Awards. Evans said the choice for the inaugural DoD award was clear:
“Suffice it to say, you have a formula for success here and our nation’s defense is the benefactor of that commitment.
“That tremendous success has not gone unnoticed, and is frankly, appreciated at all levels of the DoD, which is why I am here today. The Department of Defense recognizes the Army ROTC program and host university whose partnership sets the gold standard in our charge to educate and train leaders of character for our Armed Forces.
“And seeing first-hand the relationship and vision shared by the Gateway Battalion and Washington University, the choice was clear.”
Lt. Col. Andrew P. Betson, Professor of Military Science, received the award on behalf of the Gateway Battalion, saying, “This award is a credit to the tremendous work by the staff and faculty, a world-class Cadre and just the Cadets that we’ve got inside of the Gateway program.”
The Gateway Battalion ROTC program is overseen by Betson and a committed staff of Cadre serving over 100 Cadets throughout nine schools in the St. Louis area.
The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), as it exists today, began over a 100 years ago with President Wilson signing the National Defense Act of 1916. Army ROTC is the largest officer-producing organization with the American military, commissioning over 600,000 men and women through the program. Army ROTC commissions over 70% of Officers for the entire U.S. Army across all three components, Active Duty, National Guard and Army Reserves.
U.S. Army Cadet Command oversees Army Senior ROTC programs at 274 host colleges and universities across the nation with Army ROTC courses offered at over 900 schools nation-wide, and the Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs at more than 1,700 high schools worldwide.
About Army ROTC
Army ROTC is one of the best leadership courses in the country and is part of your college curriculum. Through classes and field training, Army ROTC provides you with the tools to become an Army Officer without interfering with your other classes. ROTC also provides you with discipline and money for tuition while enhancing your college experience.
Army ROTC offers pathways to becoming an Army Officer for high school students, current active duty Soldiers, and for current National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers through the Simultaneous Membership Program.