JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University's ROTC Program is confirmed to be one of roughly 15 across the nation slated to close.
An email that started circulating this weekend led to days of uncertainty as to what was going on. Congressman Rick Crawford contacted ASU Tuesday evening letting them know that the program, that's been at ASU for nearly 8 decades, is on the chopping block.
Crawford said that information comes from the Department of Defense. Now, the school works to build their case to keep the second oldest ROTC battalion in the state open.
"They provided officers during the first World War, the second World War. They've been established in a continuous fashion since 1936," Executive Director of Marketing and Communications with ASU, Bill Smith told Region 8 News about the ROTC program at ASU.
Now, the Army plans to close the program that's been around for nearly 80 years.
Smith said the email they received stated the ROTC programs set to close didn't meet "viability standards" set forth by the Department of Defense instruction.
"Programs that have produced ten or less cadets in years would be subject to closure if they didn't meet other criteria," he explained.
However, Smith said there's a reason they've produced ten or less cadets since 2011.
"Our command was asked, without any reason, to dial back the number of graduates we had to ten," Smith explained. "So now we're wondering why we were asked to do something that now seems to be a potential justification for a change."
Before that, the ASU ROTC program produced anywhere from 12 to 18 graduates a year, according to Smith. In the nearly 80 years of its existence, the program has produced over 2,500 graduates.
"We are certainly going to do everything we can to prevent that happening with our ROTC program," Smith said.
He explained part of that will be collecting information about the program to give to our congressmen on why it should be kept open.
"Astate's ROTC program is integral to this institution."
Smith said they'll also look to the public.
"If we need your help in rallying support, we're gonna have to call on the community."
Smith told Region 8 News that currently 115 students are enrolled in the ROTC program between ASU Jonesboro and ASU Beebe.
Congressman Rick Crawford's office released this statement on the issue Tuesday night:
"Representative Crawford is actively working with the Department of the Army to get a detailed listing of the cadet command structure across the country and see if there would be an opportunity for programs, that are located at other universities with multiple branches on campus, and advocate for a cadet battalion to be relocated to Arkansas State University."
Region 8 News will continue to track this developing news story.