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Penn State Is America’s 15th Most ‘Militarized’ University

Penn State is the 15th most militarized university in the nation, according to a Vice News study.

Militarized is admittedly a pretty broad terms, says Vice, and not meant to simply measure the number of ROTC students or campus police officers on campus. It’s instead, somewhat less broadly, “a measure of university labs funded by US intelligence agencies, administrators with strong ties to those same agencies, and, most importantly, the educational backgrounds of the approximately 1.4 million people who hold Top Secret clearance in the United States.”

You can read more about the methodology here, but it essentially worked to measure the colleges with the closest ties to US national security, and which schools did United States officials in intelligence and related fields attend. Vice attained a dataset of more than 90,000 resumes, and analyzed where national security leaders studied. They assigned extra weight to institutions that offered traditional training in military arts, or received significant national security funding from various government offices. The rankings, Vice makes sure to note, are not a list of who’s “best” but instead provides an enlightening glimpse into who went where.

In addition to earning the 15th spot, Penn State ranks third in national security funding of all institutions, thanks largely to an Applied Research Laboratory that has worked with Navy Weapons for more than 50 years.

“The university’s Strategic and Global Security Program is an Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence, while the Center for Information Assurance and Institute for Networking and Security Research is designated an NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence,” Vice notes of Penn State. “In 2015 the university was one of the first to be designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Geospatial Sciences by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.”

Penn State is also one of only three American academic institutions to participate in the National Nuclear Security Administration graduate-level program in nuclear security. In April, it opened an on-base campus at San Diego’s Marine Corps Recruit Depot. Three percent of Penn State students are a GI Bill/tuition assistance program and Vice reports that it receives $224,694,000 of Department of Defense Research and Development funding — a truly staggering amount.

The University of Maryland, a fellow Big Ten institution, is the most militarized school in America, according to the study. But no other Big Ten school ranks ahead of Penn State. Purdue, Michigan State, and Nebraska are ranked 35th, 37th, and 39th respectively.

Penn State is one of 17 “powerhouse research universities traditionally supporting the oft-cited military-industrial complex rank.” These institutions do not strictly research weapons, as a traditionalists view of the military-industrial complex might suggest. Instead, oft-confidential studies focus on “intelligence technologies, cyber security, and big data analytics, challenging the common view of what militarization means.”

About the Author

Ben Berkman

State College, PA


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