An Army salute to a longtime Spartan
For his almost 20-year commitment to integrating Michigan State University’s Army ROTC into the rest of campus, Mike Kolar, assistant director of admissions, has earned the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s highest civilian award.
Kolar is the seventh recipient – and Michigan’s first – of the Gen. William E. DePuy Award since it was established in 2005. An MSU alumnus, he’s served as the university’s Army ROTC liaison since earning his master’s degree in student affairs in 1996.
“Mr. Kolar’s greatest contribution to Army ROTC is not to its administration or to its operations, but instead to its cadets, ensuring they and other military veterans receive a level of attention far beyond what is required by law, policy or tradition,” said Lt. Col. Jeff McDonald, professor of military science, who nominated Kolar.
For example, when Kolar travels the state to recruit MSU students every fall he ensures Army ROTC has a presence at select college fairs – complete with a green and white tablecloth. And when seeing a cadet on campus, Kolar always stops to say “hello.”
“I’ve never seen a university value its Army ROTC program the way MSU does, and the individual mostly responsible for promoting this culture of inclusiveness is Mike Kolar,” said Andy Harter, scholarship and enrollment officer for the Department of Military Science.
In fact, in 2012 MSU was named a military friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine. Because of an increase in admitted Army ROTC cadets, MSU implemented a defense studies minor based upon Army ROTC recommendations; priority dorm rooms for ROTC cadets, allowing them early move in; and fully integrated Army ROTC in the Freshman Academic Orientation Program.
When Kolar started, contact between admissions and Army ROTC was limited to an occasional phone call or admissions request. But now, he and the ROTC office talk weekly.
“This award represents MSU’s commitment to military service as well as to the veteran population,” said Jim Cotter, director of admissions. “Michael’s tremendous professionalism positively reflects on MSU.”
Kolar, who prefers to work “behind the scenes” as he says, isn’t one to bask in the limelight. So he’s humbled that Army leaders hold him in such high regard.
“The nomination was reward enough,” he said. “After all, this is just the ‘Spartans-helping-Spartans’ philosophy. It doesn’t matter if you’re an academic or a military science person, we have the same relationship. Campus is only as strong as the departments we serve.”
The Gen. William E. DePuy Award is named after the first commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, who was a strong supporter of the Army ROTC program. The award is presented by the Army Cadet Command annually to an individual who has provided significant support to the local or national Army ROTC.