MURFREESBORO, Tenn. –
In his first visit to a university since assuming command of the 81st Readiness Division, Maj. Gen. Bob D. Harter was welcomed to Middle Tennessee State University last week, where he spoke candidly about leadership and life as a military officer.
University officials opened Harter’s visit by leading him on a tour of various training and support areas for the Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets. Harter was also shown other prominent military areas of the campus, among those being the military memorial area and the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center.
“At our core we are a university and that means we have a teaching mission,” said Andrew Oppmann, vice president for marketing and communications at MTSU. “The cadets are our students, and any opportunity we can provide our students to interact and exchange ideas with senior leadership is a unique opportunity,” Oppmann added.
The cadets who met with Harter are either currently in the Army Reserve or will commission into the Army Reserve upon graduation from MTSU.
“I’m grateful that a high-ranking official from the Reserve component came and talked to us. I often have a lot of questions and not a lot of Reserve officers to talk to, so it was great to have a Reserve 2-Star come down and talk to us,” said Cadet Urielle Umutoni, a senior at MTSU.
Harter answered questions and provided guidance, but it was his personal anecdotal stories that may have had the most impact.
“I really appreciate the general offering what I would consider to be a very real conversation about the issues, and concerns, and opportunities, and challenges that cadets will face in the military,” said Oppmann. “What I thought was the most valuable part of the whole day, is that he shared his life lessons. The biggest advice he gave them was do the hard jobs… because that’s how you grow, and create the forward momentum that helps you succeed and propel in your career.”
Harter delivered words that visibly charged the young minds before him and left a glint in eyes of the future leaders of the Army Reserve.
“It was a little nerve-racking because it’s not often that I get to see someone in that high of a position, but I gained a lot of insight,” said Cadet Maxwell Kawaler, a sophomore at MTSU. “As a future leader, I want my Soldiers to feel like they can come to me with anything. I want to be able to help them and motivate them to grow and change. He seems like a motivating person,” Kawaler added.
Having a hand in shaping the future of the Army Reserve is not something that Harter shies away from, and the courageous traits that the new generation of Soldiers possess are not lost on him.
"We've been a nation at war since before some of these cadets were born, and still these young men and women chose to raise their right hand and serve their country. I'm honored to come and speak to young people who embody that type of bravery and initiative,” said Harter.
Although Harter’s visit to MTSU was short, the seed of his impact will grow into something longstanding.
“We’re very proud that we are the first university that the general has visited during his command of the 81st,” said Oppmann. “That’s an honor for us. MTSU is proud of its military heritage and connection, and he’s now a part of it,” Oppmann concluded.