This month, Yale University’s President Richard Levin and the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley signed an agreement to establish an Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) at Yale. The detachment will be one of two ROTC units on campus. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus signed an agreement last May with President Levin for a naval ROTC.
Yale’s Air Force ROTC has been absent from the university since 1957. Some believe its absence was connected to anti-Vietnam War sentiment. Although absent from Yale’s campus for decades, the military has a long tradition at the institution starting in 1779 when then university President Ezra Stiles led half of the student body to take on the British Redcoats. The school’s military history extends to the Civil War, and to World War I, when 25 generals and 9,500 enlistees came from Yale. During World War II, the campus was largely given to the military for training purposes.
"I am honored that Yale will host an Air Force ROTC detachment," Levin said. "Yale students will make great contributions to the Air Force, as they do in whatever career they choose. I am pleased that the Air Force has taken this important step to make it easier for the most talented young men and women who aspire to leadership in our military to gain a Yale education. In my view both the military and Yale will benefit from this relationship."
A survey conducted by the Yale College Council concluded that the majority of undergraduates supported re-establishing an ROTC on the campus. Of the 1,346 students that participated in the survey, 68 percent supported ROTC’s return. Only 17 percent were opposed, with the remainder being indifferent to any changes of ROTC’s status.
"The Air Force’s most critical assets are our airmen, who have dedicated themselves in service to a cause greater than themselves," said Lt. Gen. David S. Fadok, commander of Air University, the parent organization of Air Force ROTC. "We take very seriously the development of our future leaders, and today’s agreement with Yale University will help the Air Force produce officers needed for tomorrow’s challenges."
Before the return of Yale’s ROTC detachment, students enrolled in the ROTC program had to travel 64 miles to participate in the University of Connecticut’s detachment.
In a press release Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut said, “The return of ROTC to campus will provide Yale students new opportunities to use their immense talents to serve and defend our country.