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Rosa: Country needs leaders The Citadel can provide

By James Scott of The Post and Courier
Republished with permission

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

While superintendent at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa helped steer the school through some of its roughest turbulence, including dealing with sex-assault and athlete-steroids controversies and an investigation last year into allegations of religious intolerance.

Applauded by many for his leadership under fire and his willingness to confront problems, Rosa has now taken the reigns of The Citadel, a school whose own fiery past a decade ago has given way to smoother times marked by increased fundraising, capital improvements and climbing national rankings.

And with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rosa said the importance of a Citadel education with a focus on ethics and leadership is in demand. Reinforcing those values, he said, is a priority.

"Every day there are folks who struggle ethically across this country. I tell you, young people, Citadel graduates, are needed," said Rosa, a 1973 graduate. "Ethics, character and leadership are needed badly in our country right now. I am excited to take that on."

Rosa, 54, replaces Maj. Gen. John Grinalds to become the school's 19th president. His annual salary is $140,000.

Rosa will give his first address to the 2,000 cadets this morning. On Monday, a day after cadets returned to school from the holiday break, he took time out from meetings to greet cadets during lunch.

Rosa has an impressive resume that includes being an Air Force command pilot with more than 3,600 flying hours and a stint serving as deputy director for operations with the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. The father of two also has a master's degree in public administration from Golden Gate University.

Mike Rogers, executive director of The Citadel Alumni Association, said the school is poised to take off. One of Rosa's tasks, he said, will be to increase fundraising. "Everybody is very optimistic," said Rogers, class of 1970. "The school is in good shape, and it is going to get even better."

Complimenting the success of his predecessor, Rosa said he hopes to build on the school's leadership. By firmly establishing and broadcasting the core values of the school, he said, it will attract cadets, male and female, who are looking for the discipline and experience The Citadel offers.

Since The Citadel first allowed women about a decade ago, the number of female applicants has increased. Still, Rosa said the school's female population is only about 6 percent, compared to about 18 percent at the Air Force Academy.

"The Citadel is not for everybody, but we want to make it as attractive as we can to as many people because it is a tremendous education," he said. "Setting expectation and letting young people know this is what this four-year experience is and is not, I think those numbers will increase, not only from gender perspective, but all our minorities."

Rosa, who lives on campus with his wife, said the Air Force Academy and The Citadel are similar in many ways, attracting students who are looking for tools to succeed and lead.

"Young people want to make a difference. They want to lead. They want to go to an institution that is tough but fair. I think in looking back on our time at the academy, we set a high standard. We held ourselves and we held each other to that standard. The Citadel has been doing that. Where we can do better, we will do better."

» Rosa: Country needs leaders The Citadel can provide
© 2006 The Citadel, Charleston, SC 29409 USA
Phone: (843) 225-3294