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Lt. Gen. Rosa inaugurated at 19th president of The Citadel
Friday, April 21, 2006
Change has made The Citadel a stronger institution today than any day in its 164-year history. And it is change that will propel the Military College of South Carolina into its future, Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa said today.
Standing before a crowd of more than 1,000 people, including the entire South Carolina Corps of Cadets, in McAlister Field House, Rosa was inaugurated this morning as the 19th president of The Citadel. He is the 10th Citadel graduate to return to lead his alma matter.
"Change is inevitable…even at a place as steeped in tradition as The Citadel," Rosa said. "We have struggled with change at time and some of those struggles have been dramatically displayed through the media. When I think about change at our alma mater, I recall the expression that the hottest fire forges the strongest steel. Change - even our battles with adapting to change - has made us stronger."
But The Citadel of tomorrow depends on the actions taken from today on.
"Since I arrived, many people have asked, "What are you going to change?" That's not the right question, I believe. The right question is, "What must we do to make a Citadel education relevant in the 21st Century?" he said. "But the answer will elude us unless we are willing to ask some other hard questions, questions which will require us to examine our weaknesses as well as our strengths.
"For us to move forward, we must not only celebrate how far we've come and where we stand..... we must also remove our rose-colored glasses and look in the mirror… and ask ourselves some hard questions."
Rosa has identified five questions that need examination:
What is the process we use to ensure that every cadet receives the training and experience he or she needs to develop into a principled leader?
"The simple answer is that it happens but we're not sure how. We know a principled leader when we see one, but we really have no definition of what a principled leader is," Rosa said. "One of the problems I see is that within our leadership laboratory . . . the barracks . . . while many cadets develop into leaders through the chain of command or in other ways, too many slide through, remaining on the periphery and missing out on the experiences and training that give Citadel graduates an unmistakable advantage when they enter the real world."
Through the Krause Initiative in Leadership and Ethics, the college must develop a systematic process that exposes all cadets - not just juniors and seniors - to experiences that prepare them "to take action when necessary, to choose the hard right over the easy wrong and to be a positive role model. Principled leadership must be a quality that every graduating cadet possesses.''
How can we change the culture at The Citadel so that Respect . . . respect for others and respect for self . . . is a trait that each and every cadet internalizes and personifies?
"We know that The Citadel is designed to be a meritocracy: everyone starts from a common base and, through effort and achievement, rises towards the top," Rosa said.
"To achieve a true meritocracy, however, we must become a truly diverse culture based on mutual respect regardless of ethnic or gender differences. The way to do that is by insisting that all cadets meet common standards and that all cadets respect themselves and others."
Rosa pointed to the following examples:
- Cadets who respect themselves and others drink responsibly or not at all.
- Cadets who respect themselves and others have no part of extreme behavior.
- Cadets who respect themselves and others hold everyone accountable to the same standards.
- Male cadets who respect themselves and others treat females as they would their sisters.
"Most of our male cadets do that… most, but not all," Rosa said.
How are we going to develop the College of Graduate and Professional Studies so that the contributions and interests of those students are recognized?
In the 38 years since it began, the College of Graduate and Professional Studies (CGPS) - the evening undergraduate and graduate program - has grown from 177 students and five graduate programs to 1,200 students and 25 degree programs, including three evening undergraduate degree opportunities. Along with professional development programs for Lowcountry teachers, CGPS enrollment climbs to around 4,000 annually.
"The more than 1,000 CGPS students who attend classes in the late afternoon and evening receive an excellent education but not a real Citadel experience," Rosa said. "We must do more to make them a part of our community. We need to determine if we are serving them in the best way possible. We need to provide them with facilities where they can gather, exchange ideas and network."
Rosa said he thinks alumni sometimes underestimate the importance and impact of the CGPS program, "mistakenly thinking that if it is not about the Corps, it doesn't count."
"I can tell you that The Citadel is a far stronger academic institution because of CGPS," he said. "CGPS enhances our faculty by attracting those who want to teach graduate as well as undergraduate students. CGPS strengthens our ties to South Carolina and the Lowcountry. …CGPS provides far more support financially to our overall academic program than it requires in services. CGPS is allowing The Citadel remain a teaching college with hands-on personal interaction between faculty and students -- a model that is becoming more scarce in today's higher education environment."
How are we going to best prepare our cadets and CGPS students to use the advantages of technology in their careers?
"At a time when people in the remotest areas across the globe can exchange data in a matter of seconds, we have a limited ability to share information from one end of Summerall Field to the other. We must do better," Rosa said.
How can we, as a public college, maintain academic excellence at a time of declining public funding?
"We cannot continue to do more with less without eroding the quality of a Citadel education," Rosa said. "We are rightly very proud of our four-year graduation rate - it is the best in America for public colleges and universities in our peer group. But to maintain this top national standard means that we must have the financial aid available so that deserving students can remain in school without being forced to drop out in order to work.
"We must keep a Citadel education accessible and affordable. We must provide our faculty with the resources and facilities that support excellence in teaching, and we must remain at heart a teaching college - no huge lecture classes and no graduate assistants in charge of our classrooms."
All of that takes money. With public funding unlikely to reach past levels, the college must focus on fundraising and other ways to generate revenue, he said.
"So there you have it… five hard questions I believe we must ask if we are going to go from the very good Citadel of today to the great Citadel of tomorrow," Rosa said. "The Citadel of my vision . . . strong enough to endure…vital enough to inspire…powerful enough to make CHARACTER COUNT for tomorrow's America."