To: NJIT Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Robert A. Altenkirch, President
Date: Wednesday, August 11, 2003
NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Website: CONTACT: Sheryl Weinstein For Immediate Release New Jersey Institute of Technology August 11, 2004 (973) 596-3436.
NEWARK, Aug. 11-Robert A. Altenkirch, PhD, president of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), supports the efforts of members of New Jersey's congressional delegation to halt the closure of Air Force ROTC Detachment #490. NJIT has hosted this detachment since 1949.
Closing the program, which has produced more than 1000 graduates since its inception and serves 12 other area colleges and universities, would discriminate against the nation's most densely populated urban center. The closing would leave only one existing Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) program in central New Jersey, too far to serve local students according to Air Force standards.
Altenkirch cited the following reasons for keeping the program open:
* AFROTC provides scholarship assistance that is the only route to higher education for some NJIT students.
* AFROTC provides a pathway into a productive career.
* AFROTC needs NJIT graduates.
"The NJIT program is almost exclusively populated by students pursuing engineering, science and computing degrees which are precisely the disciplines sought for the future force," said Altenkirch.
"I attribute this closure to faulty thinking," continued Altenkirch. "The criterion for the closure was graduating class size. Using class size inherently discriminates against smaller universities like NJIT. Our program draws twice the fraction of cadets relative to total enrollment than that of universities with student bodies four times NJIT's size."
Recruitment of cadets into the program has been the responsibility of the Air Force's detachment commander with support from NJIT. "If the Air Force was recently concerned about its AFROTC class size at NJIT, perhaps a stepped-up recruitment effort for cadets on the Air Force's part would be appropriate. It is inappropriate to deny access to AFROTC to a large population base," said Altenkirch.
"To focus on class size is to focus on the wrong issue," said Altenkirch. "Similarly misguided," he said, "is the USAF focus on keeping 'units and instructors in the schools and localities that produce significant numbers. Recruitment is the issue here-- or much smaller population bases would not have proportionally such large programs," as U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg has communicated to the Secretary of the Air Force. Less populated areas have much larger programs, with North Dakota enrolling more AFROTC cadets than the two detachments in New Jersey combined.
Altenkirch has proposed that, should the program remain open, NJIT would undertake responsibility for AFROTC recruitment in consultation with the Air Force as part of NJIT's general undergraduate recruiting and admission process.
The university was informed of the program change several weeks ago as part of a budget reduction effort.