STEPHENVILLE — Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Kenny Weldon has been named dean of Tarleton State University’s new Leadership and Military College, effective immediately, and will continue his role as Commandant of the Texan Corps of Cadets. The college results from the rapid growth of the corps, reinstated in 2016, as a leadership development program.
The number of cadets has almost doubled over the past four years to 120 strong. The corps was originally founded in 1917, when Tarleton became founding member of The Texas A&M University System.
Part student military organization and part leadership training enterprise, including a minor in leadership studies, the Texan Corps of Cadets is the nation’s only such group not associated with a senior military college. And Tarleton is the only four-year university in the U.S. to implement a military college with a corps of cadets.
“Establishing a Leadership and Military College is the right thing to do for our students and for our country,” said university President James Hurley. “Regardless of the path they choose, our cadets leave Tarleton prepared to serve as effective, successful front-runners in a world where commitment, perseverance and teamwork make all the difference.”
Weldon deserves his added role as dean, Hurley said. Tapped in 2016 as commandant, he has played a significant role in re-establishing and growing the Texan Corps of Cadets.
A Stephenville native, Weldon retired in 2011 after 26 years in the Air Force. While on active duty, he served as a civil engineer officer and led organizations at the installation, military department and Secretary of Defense levels. His military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and Legion of Merit.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, with a bachelor’s in civil engineering. He also holds a master’s in engineering and environmental management as well as a master’s in national security strategy from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
Tarleton’s Leadership and Military College combines academic course work with real-world experiences to cultivate individual leadership. In addition to the Texan Corps of Cadets, the college offers a leadership degree and certificate as well as myriad internship opportunities.
In addition to the Office of the Commandant, the college is comprised of the departments of Military Science and Aerospace Studies (via crosstown agreement) and the Department of Leadership Studies.
“The ultimate value of Tarleton’s Leadership and Military College is facilitating the development of the individual as a leader for the 21st century,” Weldon said. “Leadership skills learned by student cadets have application both in and out of uniform — to serve the greater good and elevate service above self, a concept that aligns with the military ethos ‘mission first, people always.’ The corps experience is designed to instill care for others.”
Built on the freshman experience, the Texan Corps of Cadets requires sophomores, juniors and seniors to support newer students and help them excel. Members learn personal discipline and focus. A 24-hour schedule makes time for classes, homework, meals, physical training, military duties, personal time and sleep, giving cadets time management skills well beyond their collegiate peers.
“We want all cadets to embrace the ideas of accountability, responsibility and commitment, and to do so 168 hours a week or all the time. We call this ARC168 leadership,” Weldon said. “These traits are vital characteristics of successful members of any team or profession and encourage the development of habits that enable success in life.”
Following graduation, many Texan cadets commission through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps as officers in the Army — a proud partnership dating back more than 100 years — or Air Force or Marine Corps. Others follow a civilian track called Texan Leader, with no military obligation.
The ultimate enrollment goal for the Leadership and Military College is 500 cadets by 2026.
For more information on Tarleton’s Texan Corps of Cadets, go to www.tarleton.edu/cadets.