NROTC program remains strong in rankings

Bryce McDevitt

Despite America’s war in the Middle East and a continuing generational shift away from considering the Armed Forces as a career opportunity, Villanova’s heralded Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC), which is the most storied Naval program behind the Naval Academy, has had a continual increase in the number of midshipmen in its program.

As stated on the University’s NROTC Web site, “The battalion consists of more than 90 Navy and Marine Corps midshipmen,” with 33 incoming students this year, 11 of which arrived on campus without scholarships or previous military commitment. Both the total number of incoming students and the number of volunteers has increased from last year’s totals: 27 incoming students with eight volunteering.

For the most part, students who have expressed an early interest in joining the NROTC program are awarded merit-based scholarships in high school. These scholarships often cover the full tuition of a college education. Once the student receives a military-based scholarship, he or she applies to a university. Civilian students, or those without military affiliation, are also able to join the military ROTC program by signing up at their respective universities.

Because of the NROTC program’s success at Villanova, many qualified, scholarship-based students have been rejected simply because the program has fulfilled its scholarship quota.

“We’re actually growing here,” NROTC Commanding Officer at Villanova Colonel Brian Manthe said. “We get more [NROTC] students [who] apply with scholarships to Villanova then anywhere else.”

The NROTC’s success and increasing numbers are unique in a shrinking Navy. As technology begins to improve, the physical manpower is unnecessary because the units require fewer men to operate.

“You’ve got one ship that can do the job of three,” Manthe said. “The Navy is getting smaller because the platforms can do more.”

The increase in technology has in turn lead to increased efficiency, resulting in the decrease in midshipmen.

Manthe said that the quality of soldier has not changed, however.

“There are more flag officers that come out of Villanova than any other civilian university in the United States,” Manthe said. The Naval Academy is the only institution that produces more flag officers. More interesting is the fact that the program does not recruit students.

“Recruiting is not our business,” Manthe said. “I cannot stress that enough.”

Manthe cited the NROTC students as the catalysts for increased enrollment.

NROTC students, by virtue of being seen around campus “recruit by themselves,” Manthe said.

They serve as positive examples of what a NROTC and Villanova student embody, according to Manthe. “We bring in good citizens who matriculate and are going to be good students for the University,” he said.

The connection between the University and the Navy does not stop with the student body, however, as Manthe noted that both institutions exemplify similar morals, beliefs and traditions as demonstrated in the University’s credo: “Veritas, Unitas, Caritas.”

“Villanova and the Navy have a totally compatible program,” Manthe said.

Furthermore, the University’s NROTC program has a foreign exchange program where midshipmen get the opportunity to work and study overseas, similar to Villanova’s study abroad program, which close to a quarter of students participate in.

Incoming NROTC freshmen must participate in a five-week orientation known as “India Company.” India Company is an “indoctrination program that all Villanova NROTC freshmen must complete in order to be integrated into the Battalion of Midshipmen,” according to the NROTC Web site. This orientation begins on the first day of classes, consisting of a regimented schedule of physical training, study hall and drill instruction to ensure the smooth assimilation of new midshipmen into the program.

Villanova’s NROTC has produced 22 Navy admirals and Marine Corps generals.