The Spider Battalion’s recent recognition as the best battalion in Virginia and North Carolina doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The University of Richmond’s ROTC program has long been a nationally recognized program, in large part because of the balance the program strikes, offering rigorous military training set against the backdrop of a highly selective liberal arts institution.

The battalion’s emphasis on academics is the result of a strong partnership between the Department of Military Science and Leadership, the School of Arts & Sciences and the University. ROTC leaders are committed to being active and participating members of the university’s academic community. To demonstrate that commitment, battalion commander Lt. Col. Doug Gillem invited Andy Newcomb, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, and university president Ed Ayers out to the Richmond International Raceway for some high-speed teambuilding.

The three men participated in the Raceway’s Richard Petty’s Driving Experience, which included instruction on safety, vehicle operation and driving techniques. Then they hit the track for some laps.