This marks the first time Lib­erty Bat­talion, the largest ROTC pro­gram in Mass­a­chu­setts, has been rec­og­nized with the pres­ti­gious MacArthur Award. Above, Northeastern’s ROTC seniors are seen on Krentzman Quad.

The Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity has received a MacArthur Award for the 2010-​​11 aca­d­emic year, the first time it has earned the pres­ti­gious honor.

MacArthur Awards are pre­sented annu­ally by the U.S. Army Cadet Com­mand and the Gen. Dou­glas MacArthur Foun­da­tion, and rec­og­nize the ideals of, “duty, honor and country” as advo­cated by MacArthur. Awards are given to one bat­talion in each of the eight brigades nation­wide that col­lec­tively com­prise 273 ROTC programs.   

Lib­erty Bat­talion, the largest ROTC pro­gram in Mass­a­chu­setts, rep­re­sents the 2nd Brigade con­sisting of the 41 senior Army ROTC bat­tal­ions in the North­east. Lib­erty Bat­talion is pri­marily based at North­eastern and includes cadets from area schools such as Boston Col­lege, Suf­folk Uni­ver­sity, the Went­worth Insti­tute of Tech­nology, Sim­mons Col­lege, UMass Boston and the Berklee Col­lege of Music.

The awards are based on the program’s achieve­ment of the school’s com­mis­sioning mis­sion, its cadets’ per­for­mance and standing on the command’s National Order of Merit List and the program’s cadet reten­tion rate.

The National Order of Merit List (OML) ranks cadets based on grade point average, per­for­mance at the Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment and Assess­ment Course the summer before cadets’ senior year, obser­va­tions made by cadre, land nav­i­ga­tion and phys­ical fit­ness. In Lib­erty Bat­talion this year, 10 of the 33 seniors were Dis­tin­guished Mil­i­tary Grad­u­ates, ranking in the top 20 per­cent of the OML.

Lt. Col. Gary Soldato and Master Sgt. Robby Jenkins, who both joined North­eastern in 2009, said the self-​​perpetuating lead­er­ship struc­ture they imple­mented has led to Lib­erty Battalion’s success.

We’re now reaping the ben­e­fits of what we’ve sown,” Jenkins said. “We’ve got our best prac­tices, a strong cadre and staff, and these cadets have really brought some­thing spe­cial to the pro­gram this year.”

Seniors are tasked with the lead­er­ship to run the pro­gram and to show the juniors how to run the pro­gram,” Soldato said. “Each new senior class steps up to coor­di­nate the pro­gram, using the skills they have learned from pre­vious classes and building on their leadership.”

Anthony Chic­carelli, a senior cadet at North­eastern, said, “The point of this is to pre­pare us to be offi­cers in the United States Army by giving us this level of respon­si­bility for plan­ning and exe­cu­tion of mil­i­tary exer­cises and training.”

Part of the lead­er­ship model imple­mented involves a men­toring com­po­nent that helps new ROTC mem­bers learn how to bal­ance the aca­d­emic rigors of school and the lead­er­ship respon­si­bil­i­ties expected of cadets.

New people are brought into the group, with upper­classmen pro­viding counsel and men­toring, giving us con­tinued expo­sure and com­mit­ment to these expec­ta­tions over time,” said cadet Daniel McSweeney, a senior.

The award under­scores Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to its ROTC pro­gram and to the university’s stu­dent vet­erans. Defense and home­land secu­rity are also key com­po­nents of the Northeastern’s research agenda.

Since 1950, the uni­ver­sity has hosted a ROTC pro­gram on campus. At one time it was one of the largest com­pletely vol­un­teer ROTC units in the country, with about 2,800 cadets enrolled.