Senate will form a committee to study future role of ROTC on campus

With the expected repeal of the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, it's time to reconsider Stanford's relationship with the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, said David Kennedy, history professor emeritus.

L.A. Cicero David M. Kennedy at Faculty Senate meeting

David M. Kennedy, Professor of History, emeritus, spoke before the Faculty Senate on Thursday, March 4, 2010. Kennedy spoke in support of bringing ROTC back to the Stanford campus.

The Faculty Senate agreed Thursday to create a committee to study Stanford's role in preparing students for leadership roles in the military, including the potential benefits of re-establishing a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program on campus.

"The committee should explore the logistical, financial and pedagogical implications of any such relationship for Stanford and its wider mission, and report back to the senate detailing a range of options the university might pursue and the consequences they can be expected to have," the motion said.

The senate approved the motion on a voice vote. One faculty member voted "no" and two abstained.

Senate Chair Andrea Goldsmith, professor of electrical engineering, said the committee would report back to the senate during the next academic year.

"One possibility is for Stanford to re-establish an ROTC program on the Stanford campus, but there are many other possibilities as well," she said at the start of the meeting, the final Faculty Senate gathering of winter quarter.

Stanford phased out its ROTC programs after the Faculty Senate terminated credit for ROTC courses in 1970. The Air Force ended its Stanford program in 1971; the Army and Navy followed suit in 1973, the same year the United States discontinued the draft and established an all-volunteer military force.

The Thursday vote followed a joint presentation by David Kennedy, the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Emeritus, and former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, the Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Kennedy and Perry said they assume the Pentagon policy barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces will soon be repealed.

"It is our assumption that the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, which has been a serious impediment to reopening this discussion at all, will probably go away within the next year or two, and the field will be open to have a reasonable discussion on this," Kennedy said.

He said Stanford phased out its ROTC programs amid concerns about academic standards (courses were taught by military instructors) and a clause in student ROTC contracts that said students could be drafted immediately if they quit the program. At the time, the ROTC programs also were an issue for faculty and students who opposed the Vietnam War.

L.A. Cicero Professor William Perry told the Faculty Senate that when he was Secretary of Defense in 1994, he was surrounded by top military officials who were ROTC graduates.

Professor William Perry told the Faculty Senate that when he was Secretary of Defense in 1994, he was surrounded by top military officials who were ROTC graduates.

During negotiations with Stanford in 1970, the military agreed to eliminate academic credits for ROTC courses, but said removing the punitive clause was beyond their control, Kennedy said.

"The academic dimensions of this subject were negotiable 40 years ago; and there's no reason to think they won't be negotiable again today," he told the senate.

Kennedy said the "punitive clause" once so troubling to faculty is a moot point in the era of the all-volunteer service.

"And to bring the discussion up to the present day, it's our perception – and it's shared by others – that our current policy and practice compelling the one dozen ROTC students at Stanford to go to Berkeley or Santa Clara or San Jose – depending on their service branch – for their ROTC training imposes a pretty unreasonable burden on them that we probably ought to think seriously of doing away with, by bringing that instruction back onto this campus in some form," Kennedy said.

Stanford has cross-enrollment agreements – established between 1975 and 1981 – with three nearby universities that have ROTC programs. Under the pacts, Stanford students get military training while working on their degrees at Stanford.

Students enrolled in Navy and Marine Corps ROTC take classes at the University of California-Berkeley; Air Force ROTC classes are held at San Jose State University. The Army ROTC program is based at Santa Clara University.

Stanford began hosting classes by Santa Clara University's Army ROTC program in 1997. Currently, six Army ROTC classes for freshmen and sophomores are held on the Stanford campus. The classes focus on leadership, including "Leadership and Personal Development" and "Leadership in Changing Environments."

Kennedy also expressed concern that there is a growing gulf between the military and civil society.

"We are in danger of seriously compromising a 200-year-old tradition in this society of the citizen soldier," he said.

He said there is evidence that a "military caste" is emerging in the United States.

"In 2008, the 307 general officers in the United States Army – rank of brigadier and above – had 180 of their children in the service," he said. "The officers I talked with referred to the military – somewhat jokingly, somewhat not – as the 'family business.'"

By comparison, Kennedy noted, the 535 elected members of the U.S. Congress had 10 of their children in the service that same year.

Top military officials with ROTC credentials

Perry said that when he became Secretary of Defense in 1994, he was surrounded by top military officials who were ROTC graduates, including the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chief of Staff of the Army.

"When I became secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was Colin Powell – ROTC graduate," Perry said. "A year later, he was succeeded by Gen. John Shalikashvili, another ROTC graduate; the Chief of Staff of the Army, Gordon Sullivan, was another ROTC graduate. And I found all of these men to be not only well educated and highly capable, but most importantly, I found they had an appropriately balanced view of the role between civilian and military, and fully accepted the American tradition and the American laws of political control of the military."

Perry praised two of his former students – twin sisters enrolled in Air Force ROTC – as bright and dedicated individuals. He traveled with them to their ROTC classes at San Jose State and attended their commissioning, where he met their proud parents. He said it was a shame the twins had been unable to take part in campus activities because of the time spent commuting off campus for ROTC training.

Perry said he also was inspired by the examples set by two young veterans, both of whom served four years in the Marines and did three tours in Iraq: his grandson, a student at San Jose State, and one of his Stanford students. He said they represent "the best American tradition of citizen soldiers."

Perry said his grandson received an "instant standing ovation" when he visited Perry's class – in uniform – while on leave after his first tour in Iraq. Both found the student response heartwarming, he said.

Perry said bringing ROTC back to Stanford would clearly be the best thing for the ROTC students.

"Beyond that, I think it would be best for all other students on campus to have these ROTC students participating in campus activities," he said. "Finally, I believe it's clearly best for our democracy to have, among its military officers, citizens who have a liberal education at the best universities in the country, including Stanford."

In a question-and-answer session following the presentation, Persis Drell, director of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and a professor of particle physics and astrophysics, said she wanted to address the benefits of military training to the execution of large-scale projects funded by government.

"I'd like to speak from the perspective of 'Big Science,' where we find in the execution of our billion-dollar-class projects that the class of individuals who come from outstanding universities with military training, who have chosen not to pursue a career in the military but then come back into civilian life, have a suite of tools that is actually incredibly useful, because it's a combination of the intellectual leadership and the leadership training that is very valuable. To have Stanford contributing to that suite of talents is a very, very good thing."

Drell said that for the foreseeable future, the United States will need a military.

"We want them to be as educated and as enlightened as possible," she said. "What better place than Stanford?"

Presentation on federally funded research

The senate also heard a presentation from Arthur Bienenstock, special assistant to President John Hennessy for federal research policy, who discussed a variety of issues, including federal research budgets, export controls, indirect cost reimbursements and increased regulation of federally funded research.

Bienenstock, who also is a professor at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and a professor of materials science and engineering and of applied physics, said that the Obama administration appears to be on track to double the budgets of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science and the National Institute of Science and Technology over the next 10 years – a promise Barack Obama made during his campaign for president.

"My perception is that the Obama administration has abandoned its intention to double the National Institutes of Health budget over 10 years, and that the university should be planning for that," Bienenstock warned.

He also discussed the burden increasing federal regulations have placed on faculty.

"About two years ago, the Federal Demonstration Partnership did a survey of principal investigators and found that PIs were spending 42 percent of their federally funded research time on administration," he said. "That's up from 18 percent 20 years ago."

In addition, the senate heard a report on the 2008-09 accomplishments of the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy, presented by Philippe Buc, chair of the committee and a professor of history.

The full minutes of the March 4 meeting, including the question-and-answer sessions that followed the presentations, will be available on the Faculty Senate website next week.