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Published: April 16, 2013

Gen. Schoomaker Humbly Accepts UT Namesake

With the lettering to the General Peter J. Schoomaker ROTC and Athletics Building gleaming in the sunlight behind him, Gen. Peter Schoomaker said the namesake was a tremendous honor.

“If mama was alive, I think she’d be proud,” said Schoomaker, a retired four-star Army general who was notably recalled to active duty from retirement to serve as the 35th chief of staff of the U.S. Army from 2003 to 2007. Several members of the Schoomaker family are ROTC graduates including Schoomaker, his brother, daughter, daughter-in-law and nephew. “We’re proud of our association with ROTC, and we think it’s important.”

Schoomaker was on campus April 16 for the dedication of UT’s newest building — a facility to be shared by ROTC and UT Athletics. The General Peter J. Schoomaker ROTC and Athletics Building will be the home of the Spartan Battalion, UT’s U.S. Army ROTC program.

The second floor will house all the operations for the ROTC unit, including offices, classrooms, weight room, computer lab and library, large multi-purpose room, and a supply and bulk storage area. The first floor will include athletic training and rehabilitation space, including exam and meeting rooms, taping stations, rehabilitation equipment, treatment tables, ice therapy space and a wet rehabilitation area.

Located on North B Street just west of North Boulevard, the Schoomaker ROTC and Athletic Building was dedicated in a ceremony that included UT President Ronald L. Vaughn, Tampa City Councilman Charlie Miranda and Gen. Schoomaker, as well as two UT alumni and recipients of the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force. UT has graduated not one but three recipients of this honor including Ronald Ray ’72 and James Taylor ’72, who were in attendance at the dedication, and Harold Fritz ’75.

“It’s an historic day for the Spartan Battalion,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Kelly, director of Army ROTC, who was gracious in his appreciation for the new headquarters, for the time and financial gifts of those who made it possible, and for the role models Schoomaker, Ray and Taylor are for his students. “Your heroism is an inspiration to all of our current and future cadets.”

The April 16 event also included a surprise announcement of five UT scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $14,000 offered annually in partnership with the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating the children of fallen special operations Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

"We're excited about this unique partnership since The University of Tampa can support these students and help them develop academically and professionally,” Vaughn said. “Plus, this partnership fits in nicely with UT’s long history of being supportive of the military through UT’s ROTC program and Department of Military Science and Leadership."

The building was named after Schoomaker in recognition of his service to his country and of his superior leadership skills. In addition to chief of staff of the U.S. Army, Schoomaker served as commander in chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command from 1997 to 2000. Gen. Schoomaker spent more than 35 years in a variety of command and staff assignments with both conventional and special operations forces including Eagle Claw (Iran), Urgent Fury (Grenada), Just Cause (Panama), Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Southwest Asia) and Uphold Democracy (Haiti). An ROTC graduate, Gen. Schoomaker received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, where he played on the football team. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in management from Central Michigan University.

“A leader of character is the ultimate role model,” Vaughn said of Schoomaker.

Today Schoomaker, who lives in Tampa, currently advises on defense matters and serves on the boards of several public, private and nonprofit companies, as well as the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

A campaign committee, led by local businessman Thomas Arthur, worked — in less than one year — to secure the necessary donations in order to help fund completion of the building.

“I cannot think of a more fitting way to honor the general than to invest in the young men and women who are answering the noble call to leadership and service to our country,” Arthur said.