Click to read about the best places to eat on campus, freshman packing tips, and how to keep in touch with friends.

Army ROTC program receives top award

The Suncoast Battalion, USF’s Army ROTC program, received the Army’s MacArthur Award — placing the program in the top 3 percent in the nation.

The award — given by the United States Army Cadet Command, headquartered at Fort Monroe, Va. — recognizes the achievement of the AROTC mission to produce the most commissioned second lieutenants out of an institution.

“Out of 273 host schools and 40 brigades, the Suncoast Battalion placed in the top eight programs,” said Lt. Col. Jim Botters.

Botters said this is the first time in the program’s 33-year history that the battalion has received the MacArthur Award.

“We have an amazing group of students in our program. We use peer mentoring in order to aid in student retention and also to create teamwork within our group,” he said. “It takes the whole program’s involvement to have a cadet graduate.”

Suncoast, a battalion comprising students from USF and other local universities — such as USF St. Petersburg, Eckerd College and St. Leo University — was recognized for the award based on overall GPA, physical training ability and rank of the cadets in the Army program.

The battalion was given a plaque commemorating its achievement, in addition to a streamer to place on the ROTC’s flag representing the win. The MacArthur Award also gave the program a $2,500 check to aid in operational and training expenses.

Botters said the extra funding will help USF purchase additional training uniforms and equipment for cadets.

“This award will draw more prospective students to our program, and our goal for next fall is to have 200 cadets,” he said. “Right now we have about 170 cadets, but our program is always growing and (is) expected to grow further due to this recognition.”

The battalion has increased attention to the program’s curriculum, said Senior Cadet Trey Ferguson.

“The MacArthur Award represents our abilities to produce qualified second lieutenants,” he said.

Botters said he believes the award is a culmination of the program’s curriculum and teamwork.

“Our partnership with the Florida National Guard for the past two years has been amazing. Since then, we have commissioned the most second lieutenants than any other state program and went over the goal we had previously set,” he said.

Carter Houndas, public relations chair of the battalion, said the MacArthur Award helped
reaffirm his decision to transfer to USF.

“I was not sure if my choice of transferring to USF was correct, but after winning this award, I feel certain I made the best decision,” he said. “We are now one of the top programs in the country and it is assuring to know that we are receiving the best training possible.”

Botters said USF is one of only 38 programs in the nation with established programs in all three ROTC branches.

“Seeing a cadet starting off as a first year, then seeing them graduate, and finally being commissioned as a second lieutenant is rewarding,” he said. “And the recognition of being in the top 3 percent in the nation just adds to each cadet’s achievement.”