Yes, sir! Army ROTC gets new director

Katherine Colucy

Lieutenant Colonel Dean Costas, professor of military science, is the new director of the Army ROTC program on campus. Costas replaces Lt. Col. Lee Miller who is currently deployed in Iraq doing intelligence gathering work.

Credit: Jason Hall

Lt. Col. Dean Costas was recently selected as the new director of the Army ROTC, replacing Lt. Col. Lee Miller who is now serving in Iraq. 

Most positions in the Army ROTC last only for three to four years, Costas said.

“Miller knew when he got here in 2002 that he would be leaving in 2005,” Costas said. “The Army normally wants you to bounce from different experiences and assignments.”

Maj. Daniel Jones, the Army ROTC’s executive officer, worked with Miller for the past three years. Jones talks to Miller daily.

“In general we just talk about how he and his family are doing with the transition with him being over (in Iraq) and his family being here,” Jones said. “His health is fine and his job is challenging.”

Costas, who came to Kent from Norfolk, Va., said he had a three-day transition into his new job at the university, which included teaching and training cadets at Kent and Youngstown State, a partner school with Kent’s Army ROTC program.

His background for the past seven years has been in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear consequence management, which manages those types of attacks or accidents, Costas said. He also spent two years as a teacher and operations officer at the Army’s chemical school, and four years in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Although this is his first ROTC assignment, Costas said his staff has helped with his transition.

“I’m blessed to walk into a situation where everybody knows what they are doing,” Costas said. “My university secretary knows everything there is to know. I knew when I came here I wouldn’t have to fix anything because the program wasn’t broken.”

Jones said he thinks the transition to a new director went smoothly and feels Costas has a lot to offer the program.

“Lieutenant Colonel Costas brings with him a unique prospective that will help our program grow,” Jones said.

Only 15 to 20 percent of the officers interested in leading ROTC programs are selected each year, Costas said . He put in for the job because he thought it would be an eclectic experience. 

“It’s a combination of education, training and retention,” Costas said.  “We are looking for the best Kent State has to offer, a combination of scholar, athlete and leader. When we recruit a quality person for this program, we recruit a quality person for Kent State.”

Costas said his favorite part of his job is interacting with the cadets every day. 

“We’re in the business of supporting everything (the cadets) do,” Costas said. “The Army’s a family.”

Costas said he also enjoys the opportunity to give scholarships to cadets based on their performance.

“There’s a lot of personal satisfaction bringing someone in here and telling them, ‘you’ve done everything we’ve asked you to do, you’re excelling in the classroom and in the program, and I want to give you a scholarship,'” Costas said. “To see their faces when you tell them that, it’s just unbelievable. It will make your day.”

Costas, along with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters, Christina, 15, and Michaella, 12, said his family was happy to come to Kent.

“Personally this was the perfect choice for me and my family because I have a daughter that’s a sophomore in high school,” said Costas. “So, coming here allows her to graduate from high school at Jackson, in Jackson Township. Sometimes in the Army you don’t get your perfect timing, so we’re pretty happy.”  

Although Costas has not had to make any big changes since he has been here, he said one thing that has changed in all ROTC programs in the past few years is the way it trains its officers.

“When they arrive in a unit, a preponderance of these cadets will be deployed to combat-type situation within a year,” Costas said. “They no longer have the luxury of arriving to a unit, and that unit gets to take them under its wing and has a long time to train them and get oriented. Now we’re preparing them more to be sharper in their basic skills and more physically tough.”

Contact ROTC reporter Katherine Colucy at [email protected].