Lt. Col. Brook Whiffen applauds during commissioning ceremonies in Fisher Auditorium the day before May’s Commencement.
There’s a saying that leaders are born, not made. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brook Whiffen doesn’t buy into that. Whiffen is the professor of military science in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Military Science Department, and he’s in the business of making leaders.
This year is the sixtieth anniversary of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at IUP, and during those six decades the program has produced 1,911 leaders in the form of newly commissioned second lieutenants.
Whiffen, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, has been in the Army seventeen years and previously served on an ROTC staff at the University of Mississippi. “It’s a fun job,” he said of his ROTC assignment. “It’s unique. You’re outside a regular military environment.” It’s an important assignment, too. “We need smart, young officers,” he said.
Whiffen, who is the equivalent of a department chairman, is assisted by several other Army officers, by noncommissioned officers, and by a civilian human resources assistant. The Army commissions officers in four ways: through West Point, through officer candidate school, by direct commissions (usually reserved for physicians, attorneys, and chaplains), and in ROTC.
ROTC—with programs at 273 colleges and universities across America—is the largest source, supplying about 65 percent of the Army’s officers. And ROTC furnishes officers not only to the active Army but also to the Army Reserve and National Guard.
In Whiffen’s opinion, the advantage of an ROTC commission over a service academy commission is that ROTC allows a student to acquire self-knowledge in a more fully developed sense. The broader social atmosphere of a university campus “makes you well-rounded quicker,” he said. According to Whiffen, Army officers exhibit a number of leadership styles. “We don’t try to standardize leadership,” he said. Instead, ROTC attempts to standardize values and to furnish a moral compass to guide young people. “Leaders can be made. They can be developed,” he said.
In 1965, all freshman male students were still required to enroll in ROTC. The cadet corps military organization consisted of a brigade with two battalions, each with numerous lettered companies and a marching band. Students in the program drilled twice a week. Cadets in the photo were drawing their M-1 rifles at Military Hall (later the Administrative Annex) prior to forming on the Miller Stadium parking lot for drill and ceremony activities.
ROTC cadets at commissioning are required to serve three years on active military duty plus five years in the Army Reserve, National Guard, or the Individual Ready Reserve, or eight years in the reserve forces. ROTC scholarship recipients are required to serve four years on active duty plus four years in the Reserve, Guard, or IRR.
IUP allows freshmen to take Military Science I, a two-credit, ROTC entry-level course, in place of Health and Wellness. This course, Whiffen said, includes a healthy dose of military-style physical training but also offers “fun” activities like firing M-4 rifles with .22-caliber ammunition in the Pierce Hall shooting range.
In Spring 2010 there were about 300 students enrolled in the entry-level course and more than 370 cadets in all military science classes at IUP. “If we get ten to stay in ROTC—that’s success,” Whiffen said. Many ROTC cadets at IUP are Criminology majors. Business and Education majors are also heavily represented in the cadet ranks.
ROTC classes at lower levels teach basic soldiering skills such as map reading and first aid. As the cadets advance, topics include squad-level tactics, time management, goal setting, ethical problem solving, and the code of military justice. And the cadets conduct mock counseling sessions. By the time a cadet is in MS III and IV, the required classes, labs, physical training sessions, and staff meetings can total eight hours a week. “Most [cadets] give twelve to fifteen hours a week,” Whiffen said.
The added payoff for many cadets is that the leadership skills emphasized in ROTC training can be readily transferred to civilian occupations. “We do a lot of hands-on training, and the Army is more willing to give young men and women responsibility at an earlier age than is the corporate world,” Whiffen said.
John Dale of Monroeville came to IUP’s ROTC program in 1966 as a sergeant major directly from a tour of duty in Vietnam. At that time, ROTC operated from what would later be known as the Administrative Annex near Grant Street and Pratt Drive. “We were jammed in the annex,” Dale said. “We had 1,400 cadets. We had two classrooms and they were busy at all times.”
Cadets would line up in the parking lot and march to the athletic fields for outdoor training. “We’d do training out in the woods. We ran a pretty good orienteering course,” he said.
As the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer, the sergeant major “had his hands in everything,” Dale said. He was the number-one enlisted advisor to the professor of military science, and he taught classes, accompanied juniors to summer camp at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Indiantown Gap, and worked with the department’s Pershing Rifles drill team.“We were generally accepted well by the student body,” Dale said. “When I was there, most students were first-generation college students, many were the children of coal miners, and generally of a conservative background.”
Cadet Erik Lloyd with his wife, Kristi, and son, Blake
Dale was on IUP’s ROTC staff at two important milestones. The first was in 1970, when the department moved from the annex building to just-completed Pierce Hall. “Pierce Hall was a very modern facility, and it provided us with instructional aids we never saw the likes of,” he said, including modern classrooms, an armory and rifle range on the lower level, and a supply facility.
Dale was a member of an inspection team that visited ROTC departments on several other college campuses. “Absolutely none of them had the facilities equal to what we had at IUP,” he said. He was also a member of the IUP cadre when the first female cadets were commissioned in 1976. “It was generally well accepted by the male cadets as well as by the staff,” he said. “And [the female cadets] gave a good accounting of themselves.” After retiring from the military, Dale remained at IUP for another fifteen years as a civilian superintendent of maintenance.
Tours of duty as a professor of military science at IUP are usually three years, but Col. Willard Robinson held the position for five and a half years—the longest of any PMS at IUP. Robinson is a 1955 West Point grad who earned a master’s degree in counseling at IUP in 1970. When he returned to become the PMS in 1980, he brought with him twenty-five years of active duty military experience. “I was automatically chairman of the Military Science Department and treated as a dean,” Robinson said. “And, by agreement with the university, I was designated a full professor,” something that did not sit well with some tenured professors, he recalled.
An assessment of ROTC training had shown that some programs did not include enough combat field preparation, and Robinson—with a background in Special Forces and as an Airborne Ranger and with two tours of duty in Vietnam—implemented a tough new training regimen at IUP that included a twelve-station leader’s reaction course and other combat field training before cadets went to advanced camp. His philosophy: “The better you train, the better you stay alive.”
Robinson knew the general at Fort Benning, Ga., who was in charge of the Army parachute training. “I convinced him we wanted to have 100 slots for airborne training” in the spring of 1981, Robinson said. As part of the preparation before they went to Fort Benning, Robinson had IUP cadets simulate parachute landings by jumping out the back of a moving truck.
Over Easter break, one hundred IUP ROTC cadets participated in an intensified, two-and-a-half-week airborne course, and Robinson made training jumps with his cadets from a C-141 Starlifter, his first from a jet aircraft. (He made fifty-seven military parachute jumps during his career.)
Under Robinson’s leadership, IUP’s ROTC grew in size and esteem. “I started up the Slippery Rock program,” he said, and students at other campuses came to IUP for ROTC training. Enrollment in the mid-1980s swelled to nearly 1,500, making it the largest ROTC then in America. At the same time, the department’s strong orienteering program won many competitions. “When I finished, the program was considered the top program in the nation,” he said, based on criteria like enrollment, the number of cadets who attended advance camp, and the number of scholarships available.
During Robinson’s tenure as PMS, IUP’s ROTC program won the Governor’s Trophy—for best ROTC program in Pennsylvania—three times. Robinson also takes pride in the fact that IUP was the first college campus in the nation to have a Vietnam veterans’ memorial, made possible with help from the ROTC staff and cadets. Robinson retired from the military in 1985 after more than thirty years of military service and lives near Elderton, about thirteen miles from Indiana.
Today, about 80 percent of ROTC commissionees are male, and roughly 20 percent are female—figures that mirror the Army’s overall gender ratio. Bonnie Stratton Elkins of Shelocta graduated as an English major in 1977 and became an officer through ROTC in that second year that females were commissioned at IUP. “I started [in ROTC] because the physical education program was not for me, and I just stuck with it,” she said.
Despite her avoidance of phys. ed., Elkins eventually got involved in ROTC’s Ranger Platoon and its more rigorous field exercises. “We were the first to rappel off cliffs. We were the guinea pigs,” she said, for some of the new, integrated training for females. As women prepared to enter the ranks of commissioned officers, some male cadets gave the female cadets “the cold shoulder. There was some animosity,” Elkins said. “But many were open to it.”
Elkins branch qualified in the Army’s ordnance corps and specialized in the handling, storage, and coding of ammunition. During a twenty-eight-year military career, she had two tours of duty each in Germany and Korea as well as in several states and served as an instructor.
For Kelly Wakefield ’85, the staff that was in Pierce Hall is among her most vivid recollections of her years as an ROTC cadet. “The people were a big part of it. The officers and NCOs were really squared away and sharp,” said Wakefield, who was commissioned in 1985 and in 2009 was promoted to colonel in the Army Reserves.
Wakefield, too, opted for ROTC as an alternative to phys. ed. classes. But the ROTC training developed good leadership discipline, she said, and she has stayed in the military twenty-five years. “I’m still pinching myself that I’m a colonel,” she said.
Wakefield’s military duty has taken her to Korea and Iraq, and she is now the deputy commander of a military police brigade in California. In her civilian career she is employed by the government as a marketing analyst for Army recruiting and lives in Las Vegas. “Overall, it has been a good experience with a lot of opportunities,” she said.
Carly White, a senior Criminology major from Carnegie, was one of the females carrying on the tradition of female cadets in the sixtieth year of IUP’s ROTC program. White was president in the Spring semester of Rho Tau Chi, a military-based community service fraternity at IUP.
Formed in 1993, the fraternity is open to students who have taken at least the entry-level Military Science course through ROTC or are affiliated with the Army in some capacity. In the spring, there were twenty-eight active Rho Tau Chi members on campus. The fraternity’s projects include sending care packages to soldiers overseas, sponsoring an annual blood drive, and assisting the YMCA and Big Hearts Little Hands program. Another of the fraternity’s goals, White said, is to raise money for a monument to be placed near Pierce Hall that will honor all IUP students who have served in the military.
Col. Glenn Goldman, commander of the 2nd ROTC Brigade, oversees ROTC programs at forty-one colleges and universities in nine northeastern states, including the program at IUP. The schools, he said, all have their own cultures and values. “It makes for a very powerful mix, and IUP contributes handsomely to the mix,” Goldman said. “This unit is in great shape. We’re very pleased with their accomplishments.”
Goldman’s mission for 2010 is to commission 711 lieutenants and 32 nurses, and he’s counting on IUP’s program to furnish eighteen of those lieutenants and one nurse. What ROTC continues to look for, Goldman said, are SALs: scholar-athlete-leaders. And Erik Lloyd ’02, he said, is a prime example of that.
In the summer of 2009 at the Leader Development and Assessment Course for senior ROTC cadets at Fort Lewis, Wash., Lloyd, a cadet in IUP’s ROTC program, was evaluated with 4,700 senior cadets from across the nation and was ranked the number-one cadet in America in an order of merit. Lloyd, thirty-two, will receive a master’s degree in Adult Education and Communications Technology in August and will be commissioned in the Army’s medical services corps. His first duty assignment as a lieutenant will be Fort Carson, Colo.
Goldman said it is a “remarkable achievement” that eight ROTC commissionees from IUP have gone on to become general officers—one-star generals or higher. And he regards forty-year-old Pierce Hall as one of the top three or four ROTC buildings on the forty-one campuses he visits.
“We want to be in the middle of the action (on campus) to get exposure,” he said, and Pierce Hall is in a prime spot to get noticed by students and visitors to campus.
“IUP is extremely supportive of ROTC,” Goldman said. “We’re very grateful for that.”
Randy Wells ’84 is a reporter at the Indiana Gazette.
Professors of Military Science, 1950–2010
- Lt. Col. Hubert Thornber, 1950–1953
- Lt. Col. Talbert Martin, 1953–1957
- Lt. Col. John D’Esposito, 1957–1958
- Lt. Col. Truman Deyo M’62, 1958–1962
- Col. Archie Madsen, 1962–1966
- Col. John Joseph ’40, 1966 (three months)
- Lt. Col. Charles Stevenson, 1966–1968
- Col. William Wiley, Jr. M’75, 1968–1972
- Col. John Burke M’63, 1972–1975
- Lt. Col. Anthony Lenzi ’54, 1975–1979
- Col. Willard Robinson M’70, 1980–1985
- Col. John Auger, 1985–1989
- Lt. Col. Timothy Gilbert M’73, 1989–1992
- Lt. Col. Ricky Steele, 1992–1997
- Lt. Col. Joseph Bukartek, Jr., 1997–2000
- Lt. Col. Robert Gibson D’08, 2000–2003
- Lt. Col. Matthew Stanton, 2003–2006
- Lt. Col. Jeffrey Metzger, 2006–2008
- Lt. Col. Sidney Zemp, 2008–2009
- Lt. Col. Brook Whiffen, 2009–present
Six Decades of ROTC at IUP
Oct. 12, 1948
Trustees of Indiana State Teachers College authorize President Willis Pratt to enter negotiations for the establishment of an ROTC program.
Sufficient personnel, facilities, supplies, and equipment are collected to launch the program in the 1950–51 school year.
Five second lieutenants are commissioned as the first group of new officers trained at IUP.
A forty-member ROTC band substitutes for the university’s marching band and plays at two football games.
ROTC becomes an option, rather than a mandatory class, for freshman males.
April 16, 1970
1st Lt. James Flannery ’69, commissioned through IUP’s ROTC program in 1969, is killed in action in Vietnam while serving as a tank unit commander. The enrollment office (formerly a cadet lounge) in Pierce Hall is named in Flannery’s honor.
October 23, 1970
Pierce Hall is formally dedicated. The building is named for Indiana native William E. Pierce, who joined the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1911, was ordered to extended military duty three times during a forty-year military career, and rose from private to colonel. When he died in 1960, Pierce was president of the Indiana County Bar Association.
Lt. Col. Anthony Lenzi ’54, who was commissioned with the first group of IUP cadets in 1954, returns to IUP to be the new professor of military science.
For the first time, three females are among the cadets commissioned by IUP’s ROTC program.
Pennsylvania Gov. Milton Shapp proclaims November 27 to December 3 as “ROTC Week” in the commonwealth “in recognition of the growing concern on the part of the young people for the nation’s future.”
IUP’s ROTC program, with about 1,250 cadets, is the third largest in the nation.
IUP’s ROTC program, for the third time, wins the Governor’s Trophy, presented to the most outstanding military science program at a university in Pennsylvania. IUP’s selection is based on performance of the cadets at annual camp at Fort Bragg, N.C.
IUP graduate student Erik Lloyd ’02 is ranked the number-one Army ROTC cadet in America following the Leader Development and Assessment Course for senior ROTC cadets at Fort Lewis, Wash.
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More from the Summer 2010 Issue of IUP Magazine
The 2009–2010 men’s basketball team won more games than any other and competed on nationwide television for the Division II crown.
In six decades, the ROTC program at IUP has produced nearly two thousand U.S. Army second lieutenants, not to mention eight generals.
Legacy Gala, Ruddock Hall, who’s in that photo, and more
Highlights about IUP faculty members, past and present
The latest IUP player to be picked in the NFL draft, plus other newsworthy IUP athletes
IUP Magazine Web Exclusives
June 30, 2010
What distinguishes our Western Pennsylvania dialect?
May 12, 2010
Promoting Native American awareness at IUP.
April 21, 2010
Explore the 270 acres of the Co-op Recreational Park and the IUP Sailing Base at Yellow Creek State Park.