Corps of Cadets

Understanding our roots

by Carrie Cox '99

From right: Ben Ames '48, Ben Ames Jr., Commandant Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, President Timothy D. Sands, and Professor Laura P. Sands

In September 2014, World War II veteran and former student body president Ben Ames (business administration '48), at right, visited with (from right) his son, Ben Ames Jr.; Corps of Cadets Commandant Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart; President Timothy D. Sands; and Professor Laura P. Sands. Ames was inducted into Virginia Tech's Order of the Gavel and witnessed the corps' pass in review on the Drillfield.

In his first year at Virginia Tech, President Timothy D. Sands took considerable time to get to know the many diverse communities that make the university special. The Corps of Cadets is one such unique community. From its very first days in 1872, the corps has represented the university's first living, learning, and leading community. Reflecting on his "freshman year," Sands said, "I feel like I've been a Hokie for 143 years every time I see the corps' pass in review."

Numbering more than 1,000 cadets today, the Corps of Cadets remains at the heart of the university. In so many ways, the young men and women of the corps embody and symbolize the university's motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). The commitment starts with the corps' visible service to the campus and local community, with cadets contributing more 12,000 service hours each year, and continues in the lives of service that cadets choose to lead upon graduation. More than 75 percent enter the U.S. armed forces, while nearly 25 percent in the Citizen-Leader Track prepare to lead in the public and private sectors.

As Sands said during the spring 2015 change of command parade, "It's been inspiring for me to see the corps engaged in all aspects of our community—a constant reminder of the ethos of service to others."

At the time of his installation, Sands noted how the corps represents our university's history and is relevant today. "The community of Virginia Tech is defined by its commitment to service. While this was evident from the university's earliest days, when the Corps of Cadets comprised the student body, the definition of service has broadened from service in the defense of our nation to service to humanity. The Drillfield at the center of campus, with the eight Pylons framing the visual entrance, provides a daily reminder to those of us on the Blacksburg campus of our service heritage. The daily presence of the Corps of Cadets on the Drillfield and throughout our community reminds us all of our commitment."

During the parade in May, Sands also noted with pride the ongoing work on the two new cadet residence halls that will ultimately house more 1,000 cadets. "I've enjoyed watching the new building project begin to take shape on the Upper Quad. Workers are now putting Hokie Stone on the new Pearson Hall, and you can get a good sense of how it will look, rising above Alumni Mall. These buildings, including the new Corps Leadership and Military Science Building, represent the university's commitment to the corps and its future."

With the support of the university and the Blacksburg community, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets continues to prepare leaders—global, ethical leaders that our world needs now more than ever—for lifelong service.

Maj. Carrie Cox (M.S. civil engineering '99) is the Corps of Cadets' executive officer.