It’s been a decade since the Creighton University Black Wolves saw more than a few good freshmen sign up for the Army ROTC program, but that changed this year when 25 cadets accepted the challenge.
With the addition of four sophomores joining the ranks, the new class numbers 29 cadets. The sophomores were eligible because prospective cadets may join ROTC up until the start of their junior year by using JROTC credits from high school or by attending a 30-day basic camp prior to the start of their junior year.
The 25 cadets were especially good news because that number surpasses the 24 freshmen cadets who signed up last year, a number that was itself a 10-year best.
The ROTC’s mix of physical and technological challenge, combined with the opportunity to earn generous scholarship assistance appears to be working its magic. It does not hurt, said Maj. Daniel Pecha, that graduates are guaranteed a full-time Army job after graduation, in one of their top three chosen fields, for at least four years, after which they may choose to take their now-finely honed skills into the civilian sector.
Pecha, a native of Omaha who earned a master’s degree in negotiation and dispute resolution at Creighton University and most recently served as aide to the commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, leads Creighton’s Army ROTC program.
He said the Army ROTC program, which incorporates a mix of physical and technological challenges, is the nation’s premier leadership development program.
“The goal of ROTC is to integrate real-world management expertise with a college education,” he said. “Army ROTC produces over 70% of the officers that serve in the active-duty Army, Army National Guard, and US Army Reserves.”
Pecha said the uptick in recruitment is directly attributable to the arrival at Creighton in April 2018 of a full-time scholarship coordinator. Until 2007 such positions had been filled by members of the Army, Pecha said, but the need for officers in various conflict zones abroad led the Army to hire civilians to do the work. The position went unfilled at Creighton from 2008-2013 and was only partially filled in 2014 and 2016, he said.
“Todd Frerichs came on board in April of 2018 and through his efforts, along with the military members supporting his recruiting activities, the program has returned to numbers present in the mid-2000s,” Pecha said.
“We now have an individual whose sole purpose is to educate people about the benefits of Army ROTC and the opportunity to receive a fully funded scholarship (tuition, fees and books) spanning two, three or four years.
“In addition, cadets who are contracted (to serve after graduation) receive a monthly stipend of $420 while attending school.”
Given the new focus on outreach, and the commitment of Creighton’s admissions department to informing potential students about the benefits of Army ROTC enrollment, Pecha said he hopes to see freshman classes soon exceed 30 cadets.
This past summer was particularly notable for the Black Wolves, who now number a total of 70 cadets over all four years of the program. Fifteen juniors attended the intense 37-day Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, completion of which allows them to advance to the Military Science Level IV curriculum taught personally by Pecha, as professor of military science.
Cadets also earned five slots to attend Cadet Advanced Individual Training, which involved airborne school and air assault school.