The ROTC at Harvard


Harvard University has not had ROTC on campus since 1969, but some Harvard students do enroll in ROTC and take courses on other campuses. During graduation week, there is a ceremony in Harvard Yard for ROTC graduates. Since he became president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers has appeared and spoken at each of these ceremonies; today he does so again, for the last time.

This year Summers received the following letter of thanks:

Dear President Summers:

As you depart your duties as President of Harvard University, I ask that you accept my thanks for your support of another great institution—the U.S. Armed Forces, and in particular its Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Your support has been enormously constructive to the objectives of both of our institutions.

You are the first Harvard president in recent memory to attend the annual commissioning ceremony of Harvard ROTC graduates, and you provided a keynote address each year with a content that was heartfelt and inspiring to your students. You recognized the special career challenges these students chose to pursue; and in doing so, you honored all of your students and faculty. You offered those newly commissioned officers and their undergraduate classmates something they appreciate but more important, something they deserve: recognition of their personal commitment to serve this great Nation.

Through your actions, you provided every ROTC student with an important sense of belonging, and for that I am most grateful. Please accept my best wishes for every continued future success.


Donald Rumsfeld

I consider Summers's ouster from the presidency of Harvard a great tragedy for that institution, for higher education generally, and for the nation. I could go on at greater length, but I'll leave it at that.