Formal recognition of Naval ROTC by Columbia will resume after the effective date, expected later this year, of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law that disqualified openly gay men and lesbians from military service. Under the agreement, Columbia’s Navy and Marine Corps-option midshipmen then will participate in Naval ROTC through the NROTC unit hosted at the SUNY Maritime College in Throgs Neck, Queens. They will join Columbia’s Army and Air Force ROTC members who will continue to train, as they do currently, with other New York area students at consortium units at Fordham University and Manhattan College. Provost Claude Steele will establish a committee of faculty, students, and administrators to oversee implementation of the ROTC program consistent with Columbia’s academic standards and policies of non-discrimination.
Columbia’s long and honorable history of engagement with the military includes major training programs for naval officers and medical personnel during World War II, and the founding of our School of General Studies in the aftermath of the war in part to provide a Columbia undergraduate education to returning veterans. During both of last century’s world wars, Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons created and staffed hospital facilities in Europe for wounded combat troops, in some cases operating in the field of battle. In recent years, hundreds of talented veterans welcomed here as undergraduate, graduate, and professional students have added to the diversity of experience and perspectives essential to making our University a place of intellectual discovery and open debate. In recognition of those efforts, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen last spring came to our campus for a day of discussion of issues facing the military and our society.
I have confidence that, with the return of ROTC, Columbia will be an even more valuable forum for enhancing the relationship between our military and civil society in the years ahead.
Lee C. Bollinger