Stanford to offer activity and academic credit for ROTC classes next year

Students will not receive letter grades for ROTC courses, but the activity and academic credits they receive for the courses will make obtaining a diploma a bit easier, and the time and effort spent taking them will be acknowledged on their Stanford transcripts.

John Tao Captain Kent Keirsey instructing freshman cadets at Stanford.

Captain Kent Keirsey instructing freshman cadets at Stanford.

In a decision that will help ease the burden of Stanford ROTC students who travel to other Bay Area universities for military training, Stanford will begin offering activity and academic credit for ROTC courses in the 2012-13 academic year.

ROTC, which stands for Reserve Officers' Training Corps, is a college-based program for training commissioned officers for the U.S. military.

Stanford's Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy (C-USP) recently approved the new policy on ROTC courses.

The policy is based on recommendations from Stanford's Subcommittee on ROTC, which was convened in 2011 after the Faculty Senate voted to establish a restructured ROTC program on campus after a 40-year hiatus.

In its report, the subcommittee said Stanford had initiated conversations with the various branches of the military after the senate vote.

"For budgetary and logistic reasons, none are able to open a full program on Stanford campus at this time, but preliminary interim steps can be taken, involving the integration of ROTC courses taken on or off campus into the Stanford system," the subcommittee's report said.

Stanford students enrolled in Navy and Marine Corps ROTC take military classes at UC-Berkeley; Air Force ROTC classes are held at San Jose State University. The Army ROTC program is based at Santa Clara University.

Stanford terminated academic credit for ROTC classes in 1970 and phased out its Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC programs by 1973.

Stanford established the cross-enrollment agreements with the other Bay Area universities offering ROTC programs between 1975 and 1981. Under the accords, Stanford students get military training while working on their degrees at Stanford. In 1997, Stanford began hosting classes by Santa Clara University's Army ROTC program. Currently, six Army ROTC classes for freshmen and sophomores are held on the Stanford campus.

New policy on ROTC courses

Under the new policy, ROTC courses will count toward both the 12-unit quarterly minimum for full-time registration status for undergraduates and the 180 units required for graduation.

Students will receive one unit of activity credit for each quarter they are enrolled in ROTC. Stanford ROTC students will be able to apply eight units of activity credit toward graduation – just like the rest of the undergraduate population.

Students will receive two units of academic credit – with a grade of Credit/No Credit – for each ROTC course taken during their sophomore, junior and senior years. One freshman course – "Naval Science 2" at UC-Berkeley – will qualify for two units of academic credit.

Stanford ROTC students will be able to apply 36 Credit/No Credit units toward the 180 units required for graduation – the same limit for all undergraduates.

While Stanford ROTC students receive letter grades from the three Bay Area universities – grades that are an important part of their ROTC grade point averages  and contribute to their service rankings – their Stanford transcripts will show only activity units and Credit/No Credit academic units.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE) will be responsible for overseeing ROTC courses and activities.

Students who exceed Stanford's limit of 21 units per quarter due to their ROTC commitments may petition Undergraduate Advising and Research for an exception to that rule. Under the new policy, such exceptions will normally be granted.

Students will receive retroactive credit for ROTC courses taken this academic year.

Stanford Subcommittee on ROTC

C-USP's decision was based on recommendations – presented in an annual report – from the university's Subcommittee on ROTC.

The subcommittee's members are Hester Gelber, professor of religious studies (chair); Eamonn Callan, the Pigott Family School of Education Professor; John Pauly, professor of electrical engineering; Isabel Maravi Lopez, student representative; Scott Calvert, director of finance and administration in VPUE; and Tom Black, registrar (ex-officio).

After reviewing the curricula and syllabi from ROTC programs at the three Bay Area universities, the subcommittee said it was clear that the courses would not fit within any of the university's existing departments.

"The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education is empowered to offer credit toward graduation, however, and can take responsibility for administering the integration of ROTC into the general campus curriculum," the report said. "It is recommended that ROTC courses be listed under the aegis of the VPUE."

The subcommittee recommended against giving letter grades for the courses.

"The subcommittee judged the academic value of the more advanced ROTC courses to be worth some academic credit, but the work required in these classes is insufficiently granular to warrant academic letter grades," the report said.

"The amount of academic work is equivalent to two Stanford class units – thus the subcommittee recommendation of two units of Credit/No Credit for each quarter, or quarter equivalent, for the more advanced ROTC courses."

While Stanford students will not receive letter grades, "the time and effort they spend taking ROTC will be acknowledged on their transcripts, and the units of credit they receive toward graduation from their ROTC courses will make obtaining a diploma a bit easier," the report said.

For the academic year 2011-12, there are eight Stanford students enrolled in ROTC programs; two in Army ROTC, two in Air Force ROTC and four in Navy ROTC.