Big changes coming to Southern University's Army ROTC

Expect some big changes in the Southern University Army ROTC program and an aggressive sales pitch, according to the program's new Professor of Military Science, Lt. Col. Brian Bissonnette.


The Ohio native, who arrived at Southern on July 8, is seeking Southern students who are academically sound, have leadership skills and meet the physical requirements to be officers and leaders in the United States Army.


Southern has some experience producing leaders, with 10 of its graduates who have gone on to become generals in the United States military.


His transition to Southern has included meeting with Chancellor James L. Llorens, Athletic Director Dr. William Broussard the Dean of College of Business Dr. Donald Andrews.  Bissonnette says he has been welcomed with open arms to the university.


Bissonnette comes to Southern with experience in military intelligence and training military officers. His last assignment was as deputy intelligence director at Special Operator Commands South at Homestead, Fla.


He said he would continue working with Broussard and athletics and also work with the Chancellor and other deans to develop monthly seminars to bring the Army's experience and leadership to the other students, staff and faculty at the university.  Topics will vary each month.


Bissonnette has several goals for Southern's Army ROTC program. He wants to "promote academic success. Coach, teach, mentor and train cadets to become officers of the United States Army, and create future leaders that have the ability to be creative thinkers and operate independently with guidance that has been given to them."


To make his plan work, Bissonnette said, the Army ROTC will recruit, provide scholarships and to bring new programs to the Baton Rouge campus.


Bissonnette has started a program to involve SU and ROTC alumni to mentor current Army ROTC students. The goal is to provide students with a mentor who has experience the program, who can provide guidance and support throughout the student's four years at Southern.


It's important, Bissonnette said, that the SU faculty, staff, students and community, as well as future students, understand the opportunities available in the ROTC program.   That awareness must be paired with a clear explanation of the differences between being enlisted out of high school or going through the ROTC program at Southern.


Bissonnette plans to reach out to local high schools that fit the demographics of Southern and to Junior ROTC programs in the Baton Rouge area and beyond.


And, there is some good news already for Southern, Bissonnette said. The university's Army ROTC program has been given "100 percent of what was asked for in scholarships for the students that come in and meet the requirements." This is a first for the program at Southern.


The scholarships will also help students who have joined the program and need the extra funding for room and board, he said.


Bissonnette is on a three-year tour with a fourth year option here at the university. During his time at Southern he hopes to make a difference and bring the entire Army ROTC population to 100 cadets enrolled and fulfilling the program.


Bissonnette said he "would like to see SU be a premiere Army ROTC see it grow in size and quality." He hopes to have the program be the top among the six brigades in some 35 universities in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.


Bissonnette, who has conducted seminars at the University of Miami, will be speaking with the football team on August 15 to discuss brotherhood and the importance of building a bond before a crisis hits.


"(Head Football) Coach (Dawson) Odums is a great mentor to the football team," said Bissonnette, adding that the coach gladly accepting the invitation to speak with the team.


For more information about the Army ROTC program call 225-771-4160 or visit


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