By Daniel C. Houston
Baylor’s two ROTC programs have moved out of their longtime home on the southwest corner of campus in the old university health center into a newly renovated facility in the Speight Plaza Office and Parking Facility.
The old building will be utilized as an engineering annex for faculty and graduate students until the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative project is completed, Lori Fogleman, director of media relations said.
After that point, Baylor will evaluate the future of the health center, which could result in its demolition.
Fogleman said the new facility, which used to house the School of Social Work until it moved to its new offices in downtown Waco, has roughly double the space of the previous facility.
“Facilities services knew that both ROTC programs were in dire need of space really to accommodate their growth,” Fogleman said. “When the School of Social Work had moved, Baylor was able to address the space needs of those programs.”
For Lt. Col. Carl Wooten, commander of the Baylor Air Force ROTC program, the new facilities represent a substantial upgrade over the previous building, especially regarding classroom size and quality of the offices in which the ROTC personnel work.
“The facility is fantastic,” Wooten said. “Baylor’s done a tremendous job in setting us up for success.”
Fogleman said moving the two programs closer to the center of campus gives cadets the opportunity to socialize with one another and be further incorporated into campus life.
“It does provide a location for veterans to be able to gather and to get to know one another,” Fogleman said, “and it’s not on the edge of campus now, but it’s right in the middle of everything.”
Helotes senior Joshua Rangel, who serves as the Detachment 810 inspector general, said the new location and investment signify Baylor’s appreciation for the ROTC programs.
“It gives us the feeling that we have an even more legitimate program here at Baylor,” Rangel said.
Although Wooten considers the additional space the facilities provide a welcome improvement, he said the changes were not brought about as a result of a growing Air Force program at Baylor, the membership of which has “ebbed and flowed” over the past few years.
“In fact, we’re in a slight decline [in membership] due in at least some part to lack of scholarship money,” Wooten said. “Our funding is obviously getting tight just as it is in the entire nation. We just don’t have the money to put toward scholarships that we have in the past.”
But Rangel is optimistic about the future of the program, which he describes as “exceptional,” and believes it will continue to improve as the facilities themselves change.
“I go by a quote,” Rangel said, “and the quote is, ’Adapt and conquer.’
You adapt to your environment and you just do what you gotta do to get the job done. So to us military, it doesn’t really matter what’s given to us; we take what’s given to us and make it into what we need it to be.”