Corps' Center Focuses on Leadership

by Col. Dave Miller, U.S. Army (retired)

Virginia Tech's dairy-judging team

At a recent change-of-command ceremony for VPI Battalion, new leaders prepared to serve as part of the more than 220 cadets in the Citizen-Leader Track. Photo by Dave Miller.

The Corps of Cadets is more than the repository of the university's origins and values; it is the largest living-learning community on campus. Its mission of developing leaders of character benefits not only students who are pursuing careers as military officers, but, increasingly, students who desire to hone their leadership skills for use in the public and private sectors. More than 200 cadets are pursuing this citizen-leader track, and many of the corps' graduates have gone on to significant leadership roles in companies that are household names.

Education and experiential learning are at the heart of this effort. The Rice Center for Leader Development was created in 1996 through a generous gift from a Corps of Cadets alumnus, Maj. Gen. W. Thomas Rice (civil engineering '34). Named for Rice and housed in the Pamplin College of Business, the center directly supports the Corps of Cadets' mission. The center's specific mission is to "educate and graduate global, ethical leaders who are prepared to succeed in roles of responsibility in their chosen career and who are dedicated to the university's motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve)." Charged with managing the academic component of the corps' leader development program, the Rice Center offers 16 accredited courses through the Department of Management. A combination of these classes and those offered to the military-track cadets by the respective ROTC detachments provides an opportunity for all cadets to earn a minor in leadership studies, also managed by the center.

In 2013, the center began to create a board of advisors to support the mission of developing leadership capacity in cadets. Over the course of the summer and fall, executives from business, industry, and government organizations were briefed on the center's mission and capabilities. Invitations to join the board were offered, and I am pleased to report that joining our team are 14 highly capable people from such organizations as Deloitte, DuPont, Disney, Advance Auto, the Prince William Sheriff's Department, Transamerica, IBM, and Wells Fargo. The board will review the center's curriculum to ensure our graduates are prepared to succeed.

An equally important task for the board is to help identify opportunities for cadets to gain experience within and outside of the university construct. This concept might take the form of an "employment pipeline," where a company offers scholarships and internships and helps shape a cadet's college experience on campus. This initiative would help cadets develop a relationship with a prospective employer, ensuring that the graduate is fully prepared to begin work as a knowledgeable, contributing employee. Those same skills will be of value to cadets pursuing a military career that spans the globe and involves both government and private-sector relationships.

One measure of the important work that the Rice Center is doing is the academic success of our cadets. The corps' average GPA in the fall 2013 semester was 3.09. The advice, support, and dedication of the new board of advisors will help us continue that success and meet the ever-increasing demands for global, ethical leaders.

Col. Dave Miller, U.S. Army (retired), is deputy commandant for leader development and director of the Maj. Gen. W. Thomas Rice Center for Leader Development.

Virginia Tech Magazine

Media Building, 205C
Virginia Tech
101 Draper Rd. NW
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Produced by University Relations
© 2014 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Leave a Message