Since he arrived at Stetson in January 2011, retired Lt. Col. Oakland McCulloch has been fond of deflecting.
McCulloch, the recruiting operations officer on campus for the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, frequently can be heard telling cadets that “it’s all about” them. Or the Army. Or their country. But definitely not about him. It’s become a familiar refrain.
This time, it is all about him.
In May, McCulloch was named national Recruiter of the Year by the U.S. Army Cadet Command as part of its annual Cadet Command Excellence Awards. He was selected from among 273 Army ROTC programs at major universities throughout the United States.
“I figured somebody else would win it,” McCulloch said with a laugh.
“It makes you feel good that somebody recognizes that you put in a lot of hard work and did something good. Obviously, that’s not why I do what I do. But it does make you feel good when somebody pats you on the back and says, ‘Good job.’”
Then, characteristically, he pointed to others, most notably Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., along with the university’s Office of Admissions.
While his job is to attract talented young people to become cadets committed to service, he explains, Stetson administrators have made a huge difference by removing obstacles to enrollment and retention, such as offering scholarship dollars. Typically, for example, national ROTC scholarships cover three years at a university. Stetson often covers an additional year.
“I couldn’t have done it myself. It took all of us to make it all happen,” commented McCulloch, whose role also encompasses recruiting for Embry-Riddle University, Bethune-Cookman University and Daytona State College. The four schools comprise the Eagle Battalion, one of the nation’s largest ROTC units.
Clearly, McCulloch’s efforts are paying dividends. Last fall, a total of 138 first-year students enrolled at the four schools, including 69 at Stetson. For the Fall 2019 Semester, 144 had committed to enroll by early June, with 54 of them selecting Stetson. Additionally, another 15 top-notch students were planning to join the Eagle Battalion but ultimately chose to attend a military academy. The quality of candidates is high.
In turn, McCulloch works to find the right individual fits among the schools — with this usual message: ‘This is about you. You have to figure out what it is you want.”
Further, McCulloch’s cadets shined this spring during an advanced Ranger Challenge military skills competition at the United States Military Academy. And, in January the Eagle Battalion was named a MacArthur Unit Award Winner, as the best battalion in a region that contains all ROTC programs in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
McCulloch is a winner, even if he again deflects.
“I love being able to bring great young men and women who want to serve,” he concluded, “and help them get into this program.”