Chancellor, Army ROTC will host Leadership Symposium and centennial celebration Sept. 27

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and the Vanderbilt University Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps will host a Leadership Symposium and a celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the national ROTC program on Tuesday, Sept. 27. The event is scheduled from 3:30 to 7 p.m. in Sarratt Cinema. The symposium is free, and participants are encouraged to RSVP.

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos (Vanderbilt University)

The event also will recognize two Vanderbilt alumni who were inducted into the U.S. Army Cadet Command Hall of Fame and the Vanderbilt Army ROTC Hall of Fame—Sandra Cochran, president and chief executive officer of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., and Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Jones, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School at Joint Base San Antonio–Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

Cochran and Jones were nominated by Vanderbilt ROTC students, faculty and administrators based on their contributions to the university, Army ROTC and the business community. Both will discuss leadership and impart wisdom to the Army ROTC cadets, Naval ROTC midshipmen and other students and attendees at the Sept. 27 event.

“Vanderbilt has a long and proud tradition of educating its student leaders through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and preparing them for leadership roles in their military careers and beyond,” Zeppos said. “We are excited to celebrate the centennial of the national ROTC program and its esteemed history on our campus with Mrs. Cochran, Maj. Gen. Jones and other distinguished alumni, who serve as inspiring role models for our students and the entire Vanderbilt community.”

Sandra Cochran
Sandra Cochran

Cochran attended Vanderbilt on an Army ROTC scholarship, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1980, and was commissioned in the U.S. Army upon graduation. She served in the Army until 1985, attaining the rank of captain. Her awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Parachute Wings, and several service ribbons. During her service, she earned an MBA at Pacific Lutheran University by doing course work at night.

Cochran became president and CEO of Cracker Barrel in September 2011 following her service as the company’s president and chief operating officer, a post she assumed in November 2010. She joined Cracker Barrel in April 2009 as executive vice president and chief financial officer. She was previously CEO at the nation’s third-largest book retailer, Books-A-Million, Inc., for the prior five years and also served as that company’s president from 1999 and its chief financial officer from 1993 to 1999. Cochran received the Vanderbilt School of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus Award and was inducted into its Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2008.

“Mrs. Cochran has consistently supported the Vanderbilt Army ROTC program throughout the years by facilitating classes for our cadets and providing mentorship to our female cadets,” said Maj. Brian D. Gilbert, professor of military science, Vanderbilt Army ROTC. “This February, she was the keynote speaker at the School of Engineering’s recognition of engineering students in athletics and Army and Navy ROTC.”

Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Jones
Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Jones

Jones graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science in 1974 and an M.D. from the School of Medicine in 1978. He completed his training in internal medicine and cardiology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he served as director of the cardiology clinic. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the National War College, where he earned a master’s degree in national security studies. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians.

His distinguished military career includes previous assignments as commander, Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical; commanding general, Pacific Regional Medical Command and Tripler Army Medical Center; assistant surgeon general for force projection, U.S. Army Medical Command; and command surgeon for U.S. Army Cadet Command, Multi-National Force–Iraq, and Combined/Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force–Bagram, Afghanistan. His awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Legion of Merit with third oak leaf cluster, and the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, among many others. He currently serves on the board of the Vanderbilt Medical Alumni Association.

“Maj. Gen. Jones has provided support and advice to the Army ROTC professors of military science and cadets, in addition to speaking on topics relating to leadership and his military experience,” Gilbert noted.

Cochran and Jones will participate in a question-and-answer session as part of the Leadership Symposium. The event also will serve as a centennial celebration of the United States Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, which was established on June 3, 1916. Cake will be served, and a reception will follow in the Sarratt Student Center atrium.

For more information, visit the Vanderbilt Army ROTC website.