UArizona-military partnerships focus on space security, language instruction and more

UArizona Naval ROTC midshipmen stand in formation

UArizona Naval ROTC midshipmen stand in formation on the university Mall during a ceremony recognizing the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the destruction of the battleship USS Arizona.

(Photo: Chris Richards/University of Arizona)

The University of Arizona has a long history of partnering with the United States military. The 1885 Morrill Act, which established land-grant universities, required military training as part of the curriculum, and from 1896 to 1969, a two-year military training course was required for all male UArizona students. During World War II, 11,000 service members received training at the University of Arizona.

Today, the university offers an ROTC program to train students for future service in the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and, in the not too distant future, the U.S. Space Force. The campus is also home to two VETS Centers, operated by Veterans Education and Transition Services, where student veterans can access free services including tutoring, career assistance and counseling.

ROTC and the VETS Centers are just two examples of how the university works with the military and veterans.

"As Arizona's land-grant university, our military connections run deep and service members make up a vital part of our student body, faculty and staff," said University President Robert C. Robbins. "Many of the university's core values reenforce and complement those promoted by the military, notably integrity, adaptation and determination. And our many partnerships with the Department of Defense seek to address some of our world's most complex issues and shape the future, which aligns nicely with the grand challenges pillar of the university's strategic plan."

In honor of Veterans Day, University of Arizona News is highlighting some of the university's varied research, education and outreach partnerships with the military.

New center provides language and culture training to military personnel

The University of Arizona, which has a reputation for research and instruction in second language acquisition and teaching, recently became home to one of only nine Department of Defense Language Training Centers in the country.

Funded by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Department of Defense's Defense Language and National Security Education Office, the center, announced in October, will provide military personnel with language and culture training in critical and strategic areas, through both in-person and virtual courses. In its first year, the center will offer courses in Arabic, Farsi, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian. The intensive and immersive courses will be intentionally kept small, with no more than eight students per class, to maximize language learning.

A second component of the program, unique to the UArizona Language Training Center, will certify students as foreign language instructors, capable of supporting less proficient learners studying the same critical language.

UArizona working with U.S. Space Command to address challenges in space

The United States relies heavily on space-based assets, including GPS, weather forecasting and communication satellites, for essential day-to-day activities. The volume of space traffic between Earth and the moon is increasing, and if not properly managed could stifle future growth prospects and limit access to space.

Recognizing the University of Arizona's long history with the space program and excellence in space research, the U.S. Space Command in September selected UArizona as its first Academic Engagement Enterprise partner. The partnership will provide a forum for students, faculty and university partners to collaboratively address pressing challenges related to security, exploration, development and settlement of space. As part of the partnership, the university will establish a formal, graduate-level program in space research that addresses needs identified by the U.S. Space Command.

Nationally recognized Cyber Operations program offers online courses to enlisted military members

In 2018, the National Security Agency designated the University of Arizona College of Applied Science and Technology's Cyber Operations program a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations, putting the university in an exclusive group of only 24 cyber operations programs in the nation.

The NSA's designation demonstrates that the university's Cyber Operations program meets the most demanding academic and technical requirements.

The program's curriculum includes both offensive and defensive cyber security content delivered in a state-of-the-art virtual learning environment to ensure students have extensive hands-on experiences to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to succeed after graduation.

In 2020, the program became one of three university programs selected to host a pilot project in partnership with the United States Naval Community College to offer online courses to enlisted military members. The project allowed military members to take UArizona courses in intelligence and applied computing through Arizona Online. About 30 program participants took additional online courses through the university, including four who enrolled in bachelor's degree programs.

The United States Naval Community College plans to share results of this and two other pilot projects in the spring, and university leaders hope the collaboration will resume.

Air Force personnel hone medical skills at Health Sciences simulation center

The University of Arizona teams with Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to provide training opportunities for members of the 563rd Rescue Group at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center.

At the 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, they can hone their skills in a variety of scenarios and virtual hospital environments, including operating rooms, intensive care units, and labor and delivery suites, each equipped with mannequins that simulate human patients; all of managed from a central control room.

Sale of military merchandise benefits Fisher House

For a fifth consecutive year, the University of Arizona will partner with the national nonprofit Operation Hat Trick to support military service members and veterans through the sale of military-themed merchandise – including hoodies, jackets, blankets, T-shirts and socks – with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the VETS Centers and Tucson's Fisher House, which provides a free place to stay for the families of military members and veterans receiving hospital treatment. Each Fisher House offers private bedrooms and bathrooms as well as shared kitchens, laundry facilities, dining rooms and living rooms. The university has raised more than $40,000 for Tucson's Fisher House since the partnership began.

Operation Hat Trick merchandise can be purchased through the University of Arizona BookStores, the Bear Down Shop and Arizona Wildcats Store.

UArizona recognized for service to veterans

The university is recognized as a Best for Vets College by the Military Times. This year, the publication ranked UArizona No. 8 in the nation, No. 6 among public universities and No. 1 in the West.

In 2021 and again this year, the University of Arizona Police Department was given a 3-Star Employer Award by VETS Indexes, which rates organizations that do the most to hire, retain and support veterans in the workplace.

On Saturday, Arizona Athletics will host a Military and Veteran Appreciation game at Arizona Stadium, as Arizona Football faces Washington State. In-game promotions and the halftime show will pay tribute to service members and veterans.

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