Upholding a promise to welcome ROTC back to campus following Congress’ repeal of a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, Harvard University will officially recognize the Naval ROTC in an agreement to be signed Friday, university officials said.
Harvard President Drew Faust and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will sign an agreement to re-establish the Reserve Officer Training Corps’ formal presence on campus, ending a four-decade standoff between one of the nation’s most prestigious universities and its armed forces.
“Our renewed relationship affirms the vital role that the members of our Armed Forces play in serving the nation and securing our freedoms, while also affirming inclusion and opportunity as powerful American ideals,” Faust said in written statement. “It broadens the pathways for students to participate in an honorable and admirable calling and in so doing advances our commitment to both learning and service.”
Harvard’s full recognition of Naval ROTC is expected to begin this summer, on the effective date of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Harvard will appoint a director of Naval ROTC and will assume financial responsibility for the costs of its students’ participation in the program, but students will still be participating through a consortium unit at MIT, which has hosted the unit for many years.
The Navy has determined that maintaining the consortium, which encompasses students from several colleges, is the best for the “efficiency and effectiveness of the ‘Old Ironsides Battalion,’” Harvard officials said.
Harvard, though, will provide Naval ROTC with office space and access to classrooms and athletic fields for participating students.
Naval ROTC’s return to Harvard is “good for the university, good for the military, and good for the country," Mabus said in a written statement. "Together, we have made a decision to enrich the experience open to Harvard's undergraduates, make the military better, and our nation stronger. Because with exposure comes understanding, and through understanding comes strength."
Harvard officials are continuing discussions with other branches of the Armed Forces about re-establishing formal ties.
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