Virginia Tech Magazine
Virginia Tech

A general's vision


Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets during Cadet Leader School
Maj. Gen. Jerry Allen, commandant of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets
In June, when Maj. Gen. Jerry Allen, U.S. Air Force (retired), steps down as the longest-serving commandant in the history of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, the university community will pay tribute to a man who has achieved a remarkable vision for the corps.

Allen first learned about the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets while attending the Air Force Academy. During his time as the academy's cadet wing commander, he paid a visit to the corps' annual leadership conference. He was so impressed that he invited Tech cadets to visit the academy later that year.

Allen arrived on campus as commandant in 1999, just as the corps had peaked after a growth surge and was at its largest since 1985. After evaluating the regimental system, he began to articulate his vision of the corps: to graduate leaders of exemplary character with a commitment to service and the highest standards of honor and integrity. From that time on, the corps grew steadily and strengthened its leader development program.

The corps serves as a laboratory for learning and practicing leadership, and Allen's legacy will be the high quality of the leader development program. Allen reaffirmed the transition away from the "old corps" training environment, a shift that had been initiated by his predecessor, Maj. Gen. Stan Musser. To further prepare graduates for a complex world, Allen sharpened the training program's focus on leadership.

During his tenure, the concentration in leadership became a full-fledged academic minor in leadership studies. The weekly leadership laboratory achieved certification and now offers college credit to cadets. The corps formalized the Cadet Leader program, training freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to prepare them for leadership opportunities in their next year as cadets. The program was recently expanded to include a capstone course that provides an additional level of preparation for seniors. The academic emphasis has paid off: Average cadet GPAs have risen steadily, from 2.60 in fall 1999 to 2.93 in fall 2010.

The results of this focus on leadership have been astounding. The university's Undergraduate Student Leader of the Year has been a cadet for seven consecutive years; the three ROTC programs routinely lead the nation in training scores, commissioning numbers, and scholarships awarded; and cadets' dedication to service was rewarded with the 2009 Governor's Award for Volunteerism and Community Service. The increase in quality has driven membership upward. The regiment is now its largest since 1969, with expectations for its size to grow even more next year.

Allen doesn't dwell on the fact that his vision has been realized. He would say that he is inspired by the dedication cadets show and by the accomplishments of alumni, particularly those who willingly go into harm's way to serve the nation and protect its freedoms. Even so, the strength of today's corps is largely due to its long-time commandant. The university community, cadets, and corps alumni wish him and his wife, Joan, the very best in the next chapter of their lives.

Col. Rock Roszak '71, U.S. Air Force (retired), is the alumni director for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.


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Spring 2011