LOEB HOUSE, HARVARD YARD, 4 March 2011 -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus JD '75 and Harvard President Drew Faust signed an agreement that Faust described as one that will "restore the full and formal recognition of the Naval ROTC at Harvard" and create "a regular and durable presence of Navy training programs on our campus".
Faust spoke of the ideas motivating her committment to restoring ROTC:
At our ROTC commissioning ceremony two years ago, I quoted something that our honored guest that day — General David Petraeus — once said about military service. “The most powerful tool any soldier carries,” he said, “is not his weapon but his mind.”
Those words have stayed much in my own mind — especially in anticipating this day. They speak to the bond between education and service, between learning and doing, between what universities have to offer and what our nation counts on us to provide. And they are words that we will keep in mind as we pursue what I hope will be equally productive discussions with the other services toward similar ends.
Mabus spoke of how he viewed the agreement as re-establishing Naval ROTC at Harvard, noting that Harvard was one of the original 6 colleges that started NROTC in 1926. He described the connections between Harvard and the Navy as having continued over recent decades, and benefited the Navy, Marine Corps and Harvard. He spoke of Harvard's 17 Medal of Honor recipients and of current students such as Seth Moulton '01, who as a Marine Officer played a crucial role in re-building the Iraqi military, as examples of the type of leaders that have been and will be at Harvard in the future:
Today, Harvard and the military will re-embark on a journey that will serve to create many more officers like the ones I’ve just mentioned. I cannot stress enough how important that is to our military and how important that is to our nation.
The NROTC units we have around the country today produce great officers. They come from different geographies, different backgrounds. They bring different perspectives.
But too many undergraduate programs and too many top universities do not have a formal tie to the United States military through ROTC. And too many undergraduates leave college today with too little knowledge of what the American military means and who the American military really is. And these relationships matter. They matter in a lot of ways.
He spoke of his personal connection to Harvard, as a 1975 graduate of Harvard Law School, and the role in the re-establishment of the NROTC presence of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Juan Garcia JD '92. He put the restoration of ROTC at Harvard in the wider context:
It, and so many other of our top universities, produce the leadership of this country in business, in law, in government, in science and technology. And it should produce the leadership in the military of this country.
In a reception afterwards he noted that he had first met with President Faust in the fall of 2009 to look beyond the "Don't ask, don't tell" issue to see how Harvard and the Navy could re-engage after that issue was addressed.