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Citadel News Service
12 Jan 2006

Rosa’s requirements are simple

Lt. Gen. John Rosa gave his first official address as president Tuesday. Appropriately, his audience was the Corps of Cadets. The new president used the occasion to tell the Corps about himself and set forth three expectations.

His first requirement?

“Be men and women of character and integrity,” Rosa said. “Integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. Once you compromise your integrity, it’s very hard to get it back.”

Number two on his list was respect. “Respect yourself and others.” He said that the tough problems he dealt with during his command as superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy occurred because some people failed to respect one another.

His third requirement is for cadets to take responsibility for their actions. “Young people often want to quibble and blame others for their decisions,” he said. “Own up to your mistakes and take responsibility. I make mistakes every day – that’s how you learn. But there is a difference between a mistake and a crime.”

Rosa said that cadets could expect him to demonstrate integrity and to make the hard decisions necessary in heading an institution. "I will be tough but fair and I will be consistent," he said. "And I will always do what is right for The Citadel for the right reasons."

The Citadel's new first lady Donna Rosa waves to the Corps.

Some of his talk had a lighthearted tone as he shared his experiences as an alumnus and parent of a 2003 grad. He introduced his wife, Donna, whom he started dating as a sophomore and advised members of the third class to take a long, hard look at the person they are dating now. “That may be the person you spend the rest of your life with.”

The son of a Navy enlisted man, Rosa joked that his life did not change much when he arrived at The Citadel except for getting a short haircut. His father was a strict disciplinarian and he was used to humble surroundings. “You gave up a lot more to come here than I did in 1969,” he told cadets. “This is not an easy place. It’s a difficult place to succeed and I thank you for your sacrifice in coming here.”

The new president said he would be spending his first few weeks studying The Citadel and figuring out the culture of the college. Then he would decide what adjustments need to be made.

“There are a lot of good things going on here but every organization that rests on his laurels soon finds that others pass it by,” he said. “We need to think about The Citadel of the future and how we stay relevant in the 21st Century.”

One thing that will not change is The Citadel’s emphasis on principled leadership. “Never in my life has there been a time when the need for principled leaders is greater,” he said. “We produce leaders of integrity and that is why I have come back.”

Rosa, who took office as The Citadel’s 19th president last week, also met with the staff on Tuesday and will address the faculty later this week.

Achieving excellence in the education and development of principled leaders
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