Pryor holds up defense appointment over ASU ROTC cut


LITTLE ROCK — U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor said Friday he has placed a hold on a Department of Defense nominee and will not release it until the department explains its justification for deciding to close the Reserve Officers’ Training Program at Arkansas State University.

Pryor, D-Ark., said he placed the hold on the Army’s nomination for undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness after Department of Defense officials failed to provide answers to questions that he, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, had asked about how and why the program at ASU was chosen for closure.

“We want to see the criteria and we want to make sure that this has been done fairly and appropriately. The fact that they still have not shared the criteria and shared all the numbers with us raises big concerns about what they’re doing and why,” Pryor told reporters while in Little Rock to give a talk at the annual meeting of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities.

The Department of Defense announced in October it would discontinue ASU’s ROTC program at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

ASU spokesman Jeff Hankins said Friday university officials were “grateful to Sen. Pryor and the rest of the congressional delegation for their efforts to help save Arkansas State’s historic ROTC program.”

The Army has scheduled a town hall meeting for Nov. 13 on the university’s Jonesboro campus, but Hankins said the stated purpose of the meeting is to answer questions about “the steps going forward” for cadets in the program, not about how the program was chosen for closure.

“I think Sen. Pryor and Congressman Crawford stand a much better chance of getting information at this point,” he said.