Martha G. Barker (email@example.com)
AUBURN AIR FORCE ROTC NAMED TOP UNIT IN THE NATION
AUBURN -- Auburn University's Air Force ROTC unit, celebrating its 50th Anniversary, has been named the No. 1 AFROTC unit in the nation, outperforming units at more than 140 other colleges and universities
Auburn emerged from a tough Southeast region to capture the prestigious award, said Capt. Tom Smith, commandant of cadets. The award is determined by excellence in training, retention, facilities, faculty, scholarships and commissioning
The nation is divided into four regions with about 35 schools in each region. Auburn beat out teams from Baylor University, Bowling Green University and the University of Colorado to capture the No. 1 ranking.
"The Southeast region tends to be more competitive because of all the larger schools," Smith said. "Most of the stronger units are in this region. We won the regional in 1994, but this year we won the regional and top in the nation."
Capt. Ron Burgess, assistant professor of aerospace studies, public affairs/admissions officer for the program, said he hoped the national recognition will encourage more students to consider the ROTC program.
"It will give us more leverage to be able to keep recruiting top people and hopefully will make students think twice before making their final decisions," he said. "It puts a burden on our backs in a good way. It keeps the fire behind you and makes you work that much harder to stay on top.
"It is great for the university to have an organization that is top in the nation. This is not just our award, but it is also the university's award."
In January, the AFROTC headquarters performed a staff assistant's visit to evaluate the unit, said Burgess.
"We received outstanding ratings in recruiting, training and performance in the classroom," he said. "The unit has one of the nicest facilities. We have more state-of-the-art classrooms. The university just helped us buy a computer and we just built a Lead Management System to keep track of all our recruits. "
Smith said AFROTC headquarters personnel were also impressed with the use of the Internet, including an AFROTC home page on the World Wide Web.
"We try to use the Internet for the students syllabi and briefings," he added.
"They look at the whole cadet core and how they have worked really hard," said Burgess. "Our cadets are at the top in the nation in field training and have some of the higher grades on campus. We have a well-rounded cadet core that participate in ath letics, fraternities, sororities and are scholar students."
The AU corps of 163 cadets is also strengthened by diversity, Smith said. About one-third of the unit is female or minorities, while slightly less than half are on scholarship.
CONTACT: Burgess and Smith, 844-4355.