MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Key leadership from Marine Corps Installations East, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command and the University of North Carolina gathered together to sign two memorandums which will form a lasting bond between the organizations, Feb. 24, at the MARSOC headquarters building auditorium.
The memorandums signed by Erskine Bowles, the president of UNC, and Major Generals Carl B. Jensen, commander of MCI East and Paul E. Lefebvre, commander of MARSOC, signify a collaborative agreement between three organizations.
"Most importantly I'm here to make a commitment to you. That is we are going to do this," Bowles said to the generals during the signing. "I promise you we're in this game for the long hall. We want to be good partners with the Marines."
The first document signed, a memorandum of agreement between MCI East and UNC, solidifies the Elite to Elite Academic Mission.
The program proves beneficial for Marines and sailors who are North Carolina state residents and leaving active-duty by allowing them to forego the standard college admissions process and be directly accepted into one of 11 UNC schools.
"It can be daunting to have to compete with a high school senior in the application process, as counter intuitive as that may seem," Jensen said. "... Some of the experiences that a military member might have in their portfolio may not be given the same kind of weight that they should.
"So this equalizes the playing field a little bit," he said.
However, to qualify for the program, service members must meet certain requirements such as a minimum score of 70 on their Armed Forces Qualification Test and a minimum score of 115 on their General Classification Test.
The other document, a memorandum of understanding between MARSOC and UNC, starts the dialog on developing a number of UNC supported programs and courses for MARSOC Marines and sailors.
So far, UNC has agreed to support MARSOC in areas such as performance, resilience and rehabilitation, animal husbandry, and language and culture education.
"Understanding the nature of conflict, the strategic, political and economic issues that are associated with how we fight, where we fight and how we act are absolutely essential," Lefebvre said. "Our relationship with a quality program like the UNC system allows us to be smarter at that higher chess board, if you will, in terms of how we look at these issues in the future."
Other possible initiatives mirror a memorandum between UNC and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, which was signed in November 2009.
For UNC the memorandums mean more students with life experience and great leadership skills on the campus grounds. It also means an opportunity to conduct research while also improving the capabilities of MARSOC.
"For us it's a chance to have our students live and learn from these Marines who have had experiences throughout the globe, experiences that we can learn from," Bowles said. "A chance for us to provide some of the expertise that we have on our various campuses to enable the Marines here at MARSOC to perform at an even higher level than they do today."