USM’s ROTC military training program among 13 on Army’s chopping block

Rodney Bennett
Rodney Bennett

HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (AP) — The University of Southern Mississippi is one of 13 schools nationally losing its Army Reserve Officer Training Corp. program at the end of the 2014-2015.

And Gov. Phil Bryant and University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett want to know why.

“Surely we can find funding — somewhere among the large budget the United States has — to continue the service of these brave men and women of the ROTC program,” Bryant said at a news conference Thursday in Hattiesburg.

The Army is closing 13 of 273 ROTC programs nationwide. The Army said in letters to the schools that it is responding to downsizing and other financial constraints.

Bryant and Bennett said 87 students are now enrolled in the ROTC program with 17 scheduled to be commissioned as lieutenants in May 2014.

USM’s program began in 1950.

Bryant and Bennett have asked Army Secretary John McHugh to conduct another review of the USM program.

In the letter to USM, Army officials indicated that the action was not a reflection of the University’s program, but was reached “after careful consideration of how to best accomplish its mission with a reduction of resources.”