State takeover of MMI bad idea

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 26, 2006

To the Editor:

I feel that I must speak out about what is happening to Marion Military Institute.

Apparently, there are powerful political who are willing to let the state take over MMI but are unwilling to let the school go forward with a high school attached to it.

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This is a very shortsighted plan … let me tell you why.

At present, MMI receives much of its status from being one of the five remaining military two-year college and four-year high school combinations in the country. The remaining five schools are: MMI (which is the oldest), Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, New Mexico Military Institute (General MacArthur’s alma mater), Wentworth Military Academy in Missouri and Georgia Military College in Milledgeville.

The other military schools in the country are secondary schools, federal academics (West Point, Annapolis, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine) or one private and five state-supported senior colleges. Of these, Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel are the only fully military colleges. Norwich University in Vermont, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and North Georgia College and State University have military enclaves as part of a larger student body.

You can see the problem immediately! If MMI becomes detached from its high school it will become the only military junior college in the country. It won’t be able to sustain that position and will be forced to become a four-year school too soon. Its reputation as being the oldest of the five will be reduced to being the youngest of the seven, an unenviable position.

The Early Commissioning Program will go. The Service Academy Preparation Program will go.

I hope the Alabama’s political leaders see fit to allow MMI to continue as it is for a few years just to see how they do.

If they do well, then moving up to the next level should be accelerated. If they don’t do well they should become a branch of the state junior college in Selma.

Keith Trawick

Savannah, Ga.