Georgia Southern University’s ROTC program has again been recognized with the MacArthur Award as one of the top eight programs in the U.S. Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps for college students.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, announced the awards based on the 2015-16 school year Feb. 10. The Eagle Battalion, headquartered at Georgia Southern, was selected as the top program from the 6th Brigade Army ROTC, which includes 39 programs from six states and Puerto Rico.
This is the Eagle Battalion’s second consecutive MacArthur Award and its fourth in less than a decade. Georgia Southern’s program previously received the overall brigade-level award for the school years ending 2015, 2010 and 2009.
“We are truly honored to receive our fourth MacArthur Award in eight years,” Lt. Col. Erik Kjonnerod, Georgia Southern’s professor of military science, said in a news release. “It takes significant contributions from many people, many organizations to sustain this level of success. My leadership and I want to thank the Army for continuing to send high-quality officers and non-commissioned officers to serve at our ROTC program.”
Kjonnerod has been in charge of the program for about 20 months and is slated to leave at the end of the academic year for a command in Hawaii. The faculty includes six other Army officers who serve as assistant professors and four noncommissioned officers as military science instructors on the Statesboro campus, plus four more faculty members in Savannah. The battalion musters about 180 cadets on the GS campus plus about 40 at Armstrong State University and Savannah State University.
“Most importantly, I would like to highlight our cadets, who choose to become future Army officers, and undergo our significant leader development program while simultaneously performing well in their academic studies,” Kjonnerod said. “Our cadets are the best. We are so honored!”
He also expressed appreciation to a civilian professional staff that he said supports the program “day after day to the highest degree.”
“Moreover, we want to thank the leadership, the faculty and staff at Georgia Southern University – the Eagle Nation, and our partnership programs at Armstrong State University, Savannah State University and East Georgia State College for their assistance,” Kjonnerod said.
Battalion’s new nest
In remarks at the opening of the new $9.5 million GS Military Science building the first week of January, Dr. Jaimie Hebert, Georgia Southern University president, took note of the program’s previous MacArthur Awards.
“Having received multiple MacArthur Awards, our program is recognized as one of the finest and largest ROTC programs in the country, producing military leaders who are ready, Day 1, to serve our nation,” Hebert said. “This facility will allow our staff and our cadets to push those standards even higher.”
Becoming home to the battalion headquarters as well as Georgia Southern’s military science classes, the two-story, 32,000-square-foot structure replaced a much smaller building that had long been considered temporary. Kjonnerod and others hailed the new building as proof of the university’s and the state of Georgia’s commitment to the program and cooperation with the Army.
One of the largest non-military-college ROTC programs in the nation, Georgia Southern’s program also boasts of commissioning more Army nurses than any other.
Eagle Battalion’s Ranger Challenge team won the state competition in October, and finished second at the brigade level in January.
In conjunction with the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation, Cadet Command, which oversees the eight brigades made up of 275 senior Army ROTC programs nationwide, presents the award to the top program from each of the Brigades. The award selection is based on overall performance, National Order of Merit List standings and cadet retention rates.
These are the other 2015-16 MacArthur Award winners: for 1st Brigade, Virginia Military Institute; 2nd Brigade, University of Maine; 3rd Brigade, University of Wisconsin-Madison; 4th Brigade, Campbell University, Buies Creek, N.C.; 5th Brigade, University of Arkansas; 7th Brigade, Indiana University; 8th Brigade, University of Guam.