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Navy Establishes Long Requested ROTC Program at UH Mānoa

25 August 2020

From NSTC Public Affairs and UH Mānoa

WASHINGTON -- The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has signed a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Navy to establish a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit at the University on the island of Oahu, which will begin training students in the fall of 2021.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has signed a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Navy to establish a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit at the University on the island of Oahu, which will begin training students in the fall of 2021.

This partnership establishes the first NROTC unit for college students in the state of Hawaiʻi. 

“This has been long-anticipated and we couldn’t be prouder to join other universities across the country to host our own NROTC unit,” said UH President David Lassner. “The new Naval ROTC unit will provide even more scholarship opportunities for Hawaiʻi’s young adults interested in serving our country through the Navy. Our sincere mahalo goes out to Senator Mazie Hirono, Senator Brian Schatz and our entire congressional delegation for their relentless advocacy to make this program a reality.”

“Thank you to the U.S. Navy and to our congressional delegation for their continued support and commitment to establishing a Naval ROTC program at UH Mānoa,” said UH Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno. “We welcome Commanding Officer and Professor of Naval Science Donald Nisbett to the UH ʻohana. We are fortunate to have someone who brings a wealth of knowledge and an impressive background with the U.S. Navy and NROTC operations to lead the new unit.”

“I would like to thank the University of Hawaii for their enduring commitment and professional expertise that has helped the Navy to help us solve some technical challenges. The education and training of Naval officers further strengthens those bonds,” said Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet. “I am confident both the University of Hawaii and the Navy will benefit from this steadfast relationship.”

NROTC midshipmen complete undergraduate degrees, while simultaneously receiving military training. Many midshipmen receive traditional four-year scholarships from the Navy, although two and three-year scholarships and non-scholarship programs are also available. Upon successful completion of the program, midshipmen are commissioned as Navy ensigns or Marine Corps second lieutenants. 

“This new ROTC program will give more Hawaiʻi students a chance at earning scholarships and gaining an education, while helping the Navy strengthen its diversity to make sure its officers and Marines better reflect the American public and our values in Hawaiʻi,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “I thank my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee for coming together to secure the funding that made this historic program possible.”

“While the coronavirus prevents us from being together in person, I join our community in celebrating the signing of the MOU and the hiring of a commanding officer for the Naval ROTC program at UH Mānoa, officially opening the program that will provide quality educational opportunities for students also looking to serve their country,” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “I thank the Navy for its engagement during the years-long process to establish this program, and I look forward to our continual strengthening of the Navy’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and Hawaiʻi.”

Captain Donald Nisbett, a naval aviator, will serve as the unit’s first commanding officer. Nisbett previously commanded the Oregon State University NROTC unit and served as the deputy commander for NROTC Operations at Naval Service Training Command (NSTC).

“I am extraordinarily proud to be the first CO and plank owner of the new NRTOC unit in Hawaiʻi,” said Nisbett. “This state has long historical ties to the Navy and is a central hub of naval activity today. I look forward to working with UH and the other ROTC programs in developing our future Navy and Marine Corps leaders.”

The NROTC program develops young men and women morally, mentally and physically and instills in them the highest ideals of honor, courage and commitment. The program educates and trains young men and women for leadership positions in an increasingly technical Navy and Marine Corps.

NSTC, headquartered in Great Lakes, Ill., oversees the NROTC program at more than 160 colleges and universities, including staffing, facilities, and other requirements.

Applications for four-year scholarships beginning in the fall of 2021 are open now, and more information is available on the NROTC website at

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