At 10 a.m., ETSU seniors Scott Curtis, Benjamin Harney, Cameron McDonald and DelChrisha Young received their commissions as second lieutenants among a crowd of family, friends and representatives from ETSU and the community.
Lt. Col. Daniel Bishop, professor of military science at ETSU, said the ceremony was special for his cadets-turned-officers and for the whole ETSU ROTC program.
“It’s a fantastic program,” Bishop said. “It’s the end of a long road. Four years is an awful long time and these (seniors) worked really hard to get where they were today. To have a hand in developing that next generation (of Army officers) is just a great feeling when you see them cross the finish line, you see the smiling faces and see the families there. It’s a great feeling.”
He said the four seniors received their gold pin for their collar and said most had family members put their shoulder boards on to signify that they were now Army second lieutenants.
The Army announced earlier this year that ETSU’s ROTC program, as well as 12 other programs in the country, would be shut down by the end of the 2014-15 academic year due to low graduation rates.
ETSU President Brian Noland asked for an extension to show the value of the program at the university, as its alumni, instructors and students campaigned to keep the program open.
ETSU’s program was reinstated and placed on a two-year probationary period in November, and was rededicated to the school on Veterans Day.
The program must now commission 15 officers in a 3-, 5- or 10-year average to avoid being closed at the end of those two years.
Bishop said had the program not been reinstated, Friday’s ceremony would’ve taken a different tone and wouldn’t have carried the excitement that typically surrounds a cadet’s advancement in the military.
“It’s just much more fun and it’s a lot better atmosphere knowing that ... we’ve been put on probation over the course of the next two years, that ETSU Army ROTC has ... a future,” he said. “You can truly appreciate these kinds of events, with the right tone, with the right atmosphere, that (the seniors) deserve. We’re really proud not only of this particular class, but ... we’ve got some fantastic classes right behind them in our junior, sophomore classes. We know that we’re going to be able to get them through the program here at ETSU and (we) are confident that we’re going to emerge from this probationary period to be stronger than ever.”
Curtis, after receiving a degree in history from ETSU today, will enter active duty in the Ordnance Corps.
Harney will graduate with a degree in criminal justice and criminology and enter the Chemical Corps.
McDonald will receive a degree in English today and enter the Transportation Corps.
Young will graduate with a degree in psychology and was selected for Reserve Duty.