USM To Lose ROTC Program, Bryant Speaks Out - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

USM To Lose ROTC Program, Bryant Speaks Out

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Gov. Phil Bryant joined The University of Southern Mississippi's president, Dr. Rodney Bennett, to discuss the soon closure of the school's Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

School officials announced last week that USM is one of 13 ROTC programs to close in the nation. The decision came from the US Army.

Army officials said the action was not a reflection of the university's program, but it was reached after careful consideration of how to best accomplish it's mission with a reduction of resources.

Governor Bryant addressed this issue at a press conference Friday.

"We will continue to work through this through every opportunity," he said.

Bryant sent a letter to the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh asking officials to reconsider.

"We will stand, we will work, and do all that is necessary to restore this fine program," he said.

USM President Dr. Rodney Bennett said the army's decision came with no warning.

"I was surprised and disappointed," Bennett said.

The program is set to phase out at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Bennett's main concern is for those students who have been given four-year-scholarships for ROTC.

"The implications are that they will have to transfer to another school," Bennett said.

Bryant said others have reported that the money taken from USM and the other 12 schools will be used to start up new programs at different universities.

"Now we are told that these other universities will do a better job than that of Southern Miss," he said. "We won't accept that."

Bryant said Washington leaders owe USM students answers as to why.

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