ROTC’s Overbye Leaves Post on an Upbeat Note

Posted: June 19, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

Lt. Col. James Overbye
Lt. Col. James Overbye
Photo by Nicolas Tan

“I knew this was only going to be a temporary assignment, but it lasted longer than was originally planned and turned out to be much more rewarding than I anticipated. I have been very fortunate to have spent this time at George Mason University.”

These are the words of Lt. Col. James Overbye, who was assigned by the U.S. Army to oversee its Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at Mason in 2004. He is now being reassigned to continue his military tenure in Afghanistan. Overbye’s last day at Mason is July 11.

The Wisconsin native, who has served in the military for 22 years, says he will miss Mason and looks back over his time here with fond memories.

“This is a very forward-looking institution and one that has been extremely supportive of our program. It has allowed us to become an active member of its community,” he says.

“Not every institution does that. But thanks to great support from a number of offices, such as Admissions, the Registrar, Athletics, Financial Aid and especially the Provost’s Office, we have been made to feel very much a part of this community.”

At the time of Overbye’s arrival, the ROTC program at Mason had 70 students, 23 of whom were scholarship recipients. In 2008, the numbers have increased to 143 enrollees, with 55 of them on scholarship.

He attributes the growing quality of the university as one of the reasons he has been able to recruit such high-caliber students.

“Something we have been able to do these past few years is participate in a number of academic and administrative programs that have helped enhance both the quality of our program and the experience of our ROTC students,” he says.

Mason is one of approximately 270 colleges and universities around the country to offer Army ROTC courses. Whether taken as a four-year program or just a few classes, ROTC is an elective available to any student regardless of major.

“Our overall goal has been to develop the leadership skills and the confidence necessary to succeed, whether in the military or in some other capacity. Being here four years has allowed me to observe our most recent graduates during the entirety of their collegiate careers. Watching them mature from inexperienced freshmen to confident young leaders has been a very rewarding process for me,” he adds.

When his anticipated tour of duty in Afghanistan concludes in fall 2009, Overbye will return stateside to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Fort Belvoir, Va., where he hopes to complete his military career. Also, Overbye hopes to complete his work toward a doctorate in biodefense. He earned his undergraduate degree in microbiology at the University of Wisconsin and his master’s degree in administration at Central Michigan University.

Overbye’s replacement will be Lt. Col. Tom Hanson, who currently serves in Iraq. He is expected to arrive in August.

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