Princeton University is restoring ties with Navy ROTC (NROTC). Starting this fall, students will be able to participate in a cross-town program with Rutgers University, itself established only recently, in March 2012.

Princeton was among the first elite universities to welcome ROTC back after the Vietnam-era break. But although Army ROTC at Princeton was reestablished in 1972, Naval ROTC did not return, as the university continued to refuse academic credit for any Navy course. Today’s announcement doesn’t address the question of credit, but it does state that ROTC instructors will be able to teach on both the Rutgers and Princeton campuses.

It’s good news that yet another elite college is again working with – not against – ROTC. But it’s even better news that more students now have the opportunity to serve. The opening of Rutger’s program marked the first time since 1972 (when the Princeton program ended) that New Jersey students had the option to join an NROTC program.

The return of ROTC to the Ivies and other schools across the nation – including City College of New York – marks an important change, not just for the universities (welcome as it is), but also for the military. It signals a growing commitment by military leaders to ensuring that tomorrow’s officer corps reflects the full diversity of our nation – economic, social, and geographic. As Naval Commander James Crate noted in his introduction of the Rutgers unit, “We want the Navy to be a representative for all 50 states. To not have officers from one of the states is a disservice to the nation.”

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