Army ROTC Program Sees Increased Enrollment

by David Peck

Before sunrise on Monday morning, 45 Azusa Pacific University students assembled at the base of Garcia Trail in Azusa. Dressed in full gear and carrying packs, they listened to their leader, Major Mark Goeller, as they prepped for the morning hike. On this morning, the students happened to be climbing the Garcia Trail with President Jon Wallace, and some friends, faculty, and staff of APU. On any other Monday morning, you’ll find APU’s Army ROTC Cadets hiking, walking, or running somewhere in Azusa.

Major Mark Goeller is an assistant professor of military science, and he loves his job. As a second-year professor, he develops, trains, and recruits Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets at Azusa Pacific.

Originally from Chico, California and a graduate from Seattle University, Major Goeller is working on a Master of Divinity at the Master’s Seminary, and is proud to be the cadre member assigned to APU. Having spent seven years in the Army, with his last assignment in Korea, Goeller didn’t anticipate a future that matched higher education and the Army ROTC, but couldn’t be more pleased. “I am enjoying spending time with the APU cadets – much more than I am enjoying my school work right now,” shared Goeller. “My wife Maria and I host a social event once a month for the cadets, and have an open invitation for dinner and a Bible study every Thursday night. While the students enjoy the study, they definitely come for Maria’s cooking!”

The Army ROTC Cadet program has exploded over the past three years. The program is run out of Claremont Mckenna College (CMC), a host to a number of area schools. According to Goeller, “The APU program has always had 5 to 7 students, but has grown from 7 to 23, to 45 students in the past three years. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kirkland, professor of military science at CMC, had a vision for Azusa Pacific, and asked if I’d be willing to serve as the cadre member for APU, grow the program, and bring my gifts and strengths to the campus. It has been an absolute joy.”

The Army ROTC program provides full-tuition, a $1,200 book stipend, and a monthly stipend of between $300 to $500. APU also provides housing and meals for the cadets. In exchange, these students have the opportunity to serve in the Army for four years on active duty or eight years in the Army Reserves after graduating.

“In addition to their degree from APU, we teach them the basics about the Army, and we teach them about leadership,” said Goeller. According to the Army ROTC, “Cadets develop maturity, responsibility, leadership skills, and self-confidence. Army ROTC utilizes 16 distinct leadership dimensions to develop and train cadets in the fundamental skills that tomorrow’s leaders will need.”

“We are thrilled at the training these students receive through the Army ROTC Cadet program. We believe that Christ-centered young men and women are called to all types of careers, and certainly believe that fulfilling a career in the Armed Forces is an exemplary way to serve our country, and serve the Kingdom,” shared Wallace.

For more information on the program, visit