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May 31, 2005
Contact: Capt. Richard D. High, Navy ROTC at KU, (785) 864-1192.

KU ROTC commissions more than 30 graduates as officers

LAWRENCE -- More than 30 University of Kansas May graduates and three graduates of area colleges and universities were commissioned as officers in the armed forces during ceremonies May 23 in the Kansas Union ballroom.

KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway welcomed the cadets, their family and friends, other guests and the speaker, Marine Reserve Lt. Col. Ernest Eugene Garcia, chief of staff for the Selective Service national headquarters in Washington, D.C., and a KU alumnus.

Garcia said that former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole was one of his heroes.

" Without him, I wouldn't be here today," Garcia said, noting that he had worked as an intern for Dole. In 1985, Garcia was nominated by Dole and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the 17th sergeant at arms of the U.S. Senate. Before his service in the Senate, Garcia was the deputy assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs under Caspar Weinberger and as a White House special assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

Garcia advised the cadets, "You will need a hero on your journey."

Born in Garden City, Garcia earned three degrees from KU: a bachelor's degree in social welfare in 1974, a master's degree in social welfare in 1975 and a master's degree in public administration in 1977.

A U.S. Marine Reserve veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm actions, Garcia was called to active duty in August 2003. During his activation, Garcia served as an operations officer with the second Marine expeditionary forces at Camp LeJeune, N.C. He also served as director of civil affairs for the Combined Joint Task Force-Haiti and most recently as a civil affairs officer for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Iraq.

Before he was called to active duty, Garcia served as the senior assistant to Wichita's city manager in 2003. Before that he served as Kansas state director of the U.S. Selective Service system.

Garcia has received numerous awards including the Defense Meritorius Service Medal, Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service and the U.S. Selective Service System's Distinguished Service Gold Medal.

The new officers have completed requirements of KU Air Force, Army and Navy ROTC units. At the ceremonies, each officer was commissioned by the chair of his or her program: Lt. Col. William J. Maxcy for the Army, Capt. Richard D. High for the Navy and Marines, and Col. Michael D. Lee for the Air Force. Garcia administered the oath of office, and a family member or close friend pinned lieutenant or ensign rank on the new officer's shoulders.

KU is one of only 50 universities in the nation offering an ROTC program that represents all branches of the military. In addition to training KU students, KU's ROTC program also trains cadets at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Baker University in Baldwin City, the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, Washburn University in Topeka and Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe.

Two Washburn graduates, Shawn I. Atkins and James D. Lehner in Army ROTC, and Nicolas L. Polczynski, a St. Mary graduate in Air Force ROTC, are graduates of KU's ROTC program and were commissioned with the KU graduates.

The newly commissioned KU graduates, their degrees, parents' names (when available) and hometowns are available online at http://www.news.ku.edu/2005/may/31/directory.shtml.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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