Retired Gen. David Petraeus, architect and namesake of the counterinsurgency doctrine that stabilized Iraq under U.S. and allied forces and former director of the CIA, will visit USC on March 26 to honor the university’s long commitment to veterans and ROTC students.
Petraeus will give the keynote address before more than 600 guests at USC’s annual dinner for veterans and ROTC students, hosted this year by Board of Trustees Chairman Edward P. Roski Jr. and USC President C. L. Max Nikias.
While at USC, the general also plans to visit faculty and students at the USC Price School of Public Policy, host of the ROTC program, and at the USC School of Social Work, a pioneer in training practitioners to address the unique needs of returning veterans.
“In our post 9/11 world, Gen. Petraeus’ influence on our military is unmatched, and his contributions to the CIA are far-reaching,” Nikias said. “Gen. Petraeus completely reshaped American military tactics and promoted our nation’s counterinsurgency strategy. Gen. Petraeus is arguably the most effective military commander since Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.”
USC has a long history of support for veterans and the military. The university became a training school for Army officers during World War I and expanded its role during World War II, serving as a naval preparatory flight cadet school and hosting Army, Marine Corps and Navy training programs.
In addition, USC has a long relationship with the ROTC. The ROTC program at USC was founded in 1943 and currently numbers 120 future officers in four branches of the military — the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. Applicants must receive a scholarship from the national ROTC program and are admitted separately from other students at USC. Graduates of the program join their military branch as officers.
USC also enrolls approximately 600 veterans each semester, supporting their return to civilian life through the USC Veterans Association, the USC Veterans Certifying Office, Transfer and Veteran Student Programs, and other initiatives.
The Schoen Family Scholarship Program for Veterans Endowment, which has assisted close to 200 students since its creation in 1986, was established with a $15 million donation from USC Trustee William J. Schoen ’60, MBA ’63 and his wife, Sharon. This scholarship provides additional support for veterans studying at the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
The university’s commitment to the military extends to other schools and units. For the last 12 years, USC has hosted the Institute for Creative Technologies, a leading center in artificial intelligence and virtual humans funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to improve training and preparedness of officers and their troops.
In 2008, the School of Social Work won federal funding to create a master’s program designed to train social workers specifically in the needs of veterans and their families. The school also runs the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families.
“We have always taken tremendous pride in our men and women who are part of the United States military,” Nikias has said. “They arrive at USC with a broad view of the world and its complexities, they want an education and skills, and they want to succeed in life. Their presence and their contributions have forever changed USC’s campus culture.”
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