Army ROTC Welcoming Ceremony to Harvard
28 March 2012
Timothy J. Hall
Lieutenant Colonel, USA
Professor of Military Science at MIT

President Faust, Dean Hammonds, Major General Davenport, Brigadier General Ryan, Colonel Mathis, Harvard military veterans and alumni, Harvard Army ROTC students.  I am honored to be here today to open this office.  This is an important day for both Harvard and Army.

President Faust, Dean Hammonds, and Colonel Mathis talked about the long, proud history of military service at Harvard. My remarks will focus on the ROTC program and its history and its most important part, OUR Cadets, OUR students. 

On January 3, 1916, The War Department assigned an Army Captain named Constant Cordier to command the Harvard Regiment, the precursor to the Reserve Officers Training Corps, in the lead-up to the Great War.  Captain Cordier so impressed the members of the Harvard Regiment, that they did something very special for him.  On May 30, 1916, they presented him with an Army officer saber that was symbolic of the bond between a detailed Army officer, Harvard students preparing for war, and this great institution that is Harvard.  Today, this Army officer saber presented by the Harvard Regiment to Captain Constant Cordier, and all that it symbolizes, returns to its rightful place at Harvard.  The Paul Revere Battalion, that I’ve had the privilege to command since 2008 has been the caretaker of the history and heritage of Army ROTC at Harvard since the 1970s.  The Harvard Army ROTC tradition is inextricable from the fabric of our organization and it is at the same time, both a part of the whole and distinct to Harvard. The Paul Revere Battalion cared for this legacy as we have cared for this saber for many years. Shortly after the ribbon cutting we are about to do, I will place this Constant Cordier Saber in our office to symbolize both our new beginning and our tradition. The Paul Revere Battalion and I will do everything possible to honor the past, care for the present, and look toward opportunities in the future for Army ROTC at Harvard.

For far too long, the issue of ROTC at Harvard has been politicized.  Many people forget that at its core ROTC is about people embarking on a lifetime of public service, in our case military service. I’ve had the privilege of talking with Larry Bacow at the Graduate School of Education many times and he routinely states his belief that military service is the highest form of public service. I believe in this too. In the years since 1989, the Paul Revere Battalion quietly commissioned 88 Second Lieutenants from Harvard in the Army alone; this number is on par with our host, MIT.  Since 2009, we’ve commissioned 13 second lieutenants, and we will commission 2 more this year.  Of these 13 commissioned, there was one Rhodes Scholar, two Gates-Cambridge Scholars, one Fulbright Scholar, one future Army doctor, two future Army attorneys, and numerous others with significant awards; some of these graduates are serving in Afghanistan as we speak.  Our students have quietly built a record of which Harvard is proud. I am proud of how Harvard has cared for them as well. Our current Army Cadets, all six of them, are truly magnificent people.  They are dedicated to both Harvard and Army ROTC.  I am proud of them all.  The pledge of the Paul Revere Battalion and my personal pledge to Harvard is to care for and nurture them, and to provide them the best leadership education possible so they will one day represent Harvard with distinction in the Army and in civil life.  

Because Cadets are the core of any ROTC unit, I will do all I can to ensure we have a vibrant program that includes as many Harvard students as possible. Shortly after my arrival in 2008, I heard President Faust state at the 2008 ROTC Commissioning Ceremony, “I wish that there were more of you,” meaning more Cadets.  I share this desire with her and I will do what I can to try to make this a reality.  During my time in the Paul Revere Battalion, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to do this.  In my discussions with a 2011 alumnus, Second Lieutenant Chris Higgins, he helped me realize the intensity of the competition among Harvard students and the desire for new challenges.  When I put this in context with many conversations we’ve had with Harvard students interested in ROTC, many of whom stated words to the effect of, “I would do ROTC if it were on campus.”  I realized that this Harvard-Army ROTC partnership agreement gives us a tremendous opportunity.  Today, I want to issue a challenge to Harvard students and to future Harvard students.  Come and try out for our team; it is competitive and challenging to be a leader in the Army.  Any of our students can tell you about the challenges they face in ROTC and the tremendous degree of fulfillment they get. Our graduates will tell you both the challenges and the tremendous rewards of leading America’s young men and women. To help your decision if you are on the fence, I have two announcements I would like to make. Starting immediately, we will conduct physical training once per week on Harvard’s campus.  Additionally, starting in Fall 2012, we will offer our freshmen courses on Harvard’s campus on a pilot basis, in addition to our offerings at MIT and our North Shore campuses, to determine if there is sufficient student interest to justify further offerings of courses.  It is also my intent to conduct larger leadership training events at Harvard that include the entire Paul Revere Battalion; I will work to identify the best events and will work these closer with Harvard College in the months ahead.  I intend for Army ROTC to be more than simply an office at Harvard; my vision is that Army ROTC will be an integral part of the Harvard community as our Harvard students are fully integrated members of the Paul Revere Battalion.

I look forward to working with President Faust, Dean Hammonds, and the entire Harvard Community to provide tremendous leadership opportunities for our students to assume vital leadership roles for our Army and our Nation.  I am pleased with the warm reception we’ve received.  I look forward to both the challenges and opportunities ahead and to maintain focus on our most important asset, our ROTC Students.