The U.S. Army presents the MacArthur Award to the top eight Army ROTC programs in the country. This year, Black Bear Battalion, UMaine’s Army ROTC, was one of those programs.
The top ROTC program from each brigade, or region of the country, receives the award. The Black Bear Battalion is part of 2nd Brigade. The 2nd Brigade consists of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The program’s fulfillment of the commissioning mission and retention rates are all considered. Cadets ranking on the National Order of Merit List is also reviewed.
Black Bear Battalion’s cadets had the second highest average placement on the Order of merit list. The list ranks every cadet in Army ROTC in the country.
“Not only are we interested in recruiting really talented young men and women, but we’re also very dedicated to investing into them…I think that has a lot to do with why we have such great retention,” Capt. Cameron Arndt, Assistant professor of Military Science, said.
Army ROTC Cadet Lindsay Morris agreed: “I have a great relationship with the Cadre…they’re very good about helping you out with anything army-related, school-related or life-related.”
Black Bear Battalion commissioned 13 cadets in the spring semester of 2016. The 2nd Brigade has asked the Black Bear Battalion to increase the required number of commissions. The Brigade wants an increase from 12 to 15 annual commissions, after seeing the quality of the ROTC program. “this means they’re also giving us more scholarships and more funding and so they want us to grow the program,” Arndt said.
Academics, physical fitness and community involvement are also criteria for determining the winning program.
The Average GPA for cadets at UMaine is 3.39. The average physical fitness test score is 280/300. The PT test consists of a two-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups. These averages are higher than any other program in the region according to Arndt. Twenty percent of cadets at UMaine have also won the Freedom Fitness award.
The Black Bear Battalion has also focused on campus involvement. Recent community involvement has included a 5k run, a POW/MIA recognition ceremony hosted by Veterans Education and Transition Services, an event dedicating a bridge in memory of Army Capt. Jay Brainard and participation in the Take Back the Night walk against domestic violence.
Support from the National Guard has helped the Black Bear Battalion reach its achievements. In the past, the National Guard has provided personal support and access to facilities for lab sessions. Many Black Bear Battalion cadets, in turn, end up serving in the National Guard.
“We have cadets who are D1 Athletes, we have cadets who are presidents of associations and actively do coaching roles… what ROTC is looking for is cadets who are more that just very fit and more than just good scholars we want cadets who are going to be good leaders,” Arndt said.