Lt. Col. Jesse Johnson is the department chair and a professor of Military Science at UW-Stout. In that role, he leads Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs on the UW-Stout campus, as well as UW-River Falls, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stevens Point. His duties include teaching seniors across all four campuses, and his mission is producing leaders for the U.S. Army.
Johnson has served in the Army since high school and feels fortunate to be able to give back to the organization that he loves. The title of this story reflects his return to the university, bringing him back to where he started his training to become an officer.
Unlike most people who work at the university, Johnson received orders to come here. But this position was something he was keenly interested in, and he was happy he made it through the stiff competition to gain the appointment as a professor here.
Johnson is proud of the accomplishments of the cadets and his colleagues. This past year, the program he leads was the No. 1 overall program in the brigade, which consists of 42 programs based in the Chicago region.
The ROTC program at UW-Stout is highly selective. Johnson is looking to bring on talented students who can become successful lieutenants — entry level managers — in the Army. Students who complete the program earn a minor in Military Science and can complete any major to complement the minor.
The Military Science program is focused on producing leaders with character, who can maintain the public’s trust in the military and lead others with a philosophy rooted in ethics and values.
Students develop these leadership skills by being put into situations where they take charge and accomplish an objective based on guiding the work of others.
During their studies, students participate in laboratory sessions in leadership, ranging from basic skills to advanced knowledge in project management and other areas. This preparation helps prepare students for a post-junior-year summer training session at Fort Knox, Ky., where they are placed in an unfamiliar environment with cadets from across the country and need to demonstrate their leadership skills.
Among the elements that Johnson most appreciates about his work is the contribution he makes to shaping the future of the Army.
He came directly back to this job from his second tour in Afghanistan, and admits to a certain amount of culture shock, returning to his home area in the Midwest after 16 years away.
This April Johnson will celebrate his 20th year in the military. In addition to his service in Afghanistan, he also served in Bosnia and was stationed in several locations in the U.S.
Initially he was a helicopter pilot, and later moved into broader leadership roles. He and his wife have four children ranging in age from seven to 14, and he finds that outside of work, his children’s activities occupy most of his free time.
This is Johnson’s third and final year at UW-Stout, reflecting the length of his appointment by the Army. He appreciates the support he has received at the university and from the community.
His hope for the future is that the Military Science program will continue to grow and that the relationship with UW-Stout will produce even more lieutenants with backgrounds in the STEM disciplines in the future: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He also hopes that future leaders in Military Science at the university will continue to build relationship between cadets, the University and the community.
Students who sign a contract with the Army have either their full tuition or room and board paid and receive a stipend of $500 per month. Typically, students receive three-year scholarships, and then serve a four-year commitment to the Army on active duty, the National Guard or the Army Reserves.
Johnson notes that students can participate in the program for the leadership skills it provides, and they don’t need to sign a contract and agree to military service in order to take classes in the program.