ROTC Offices to Be Named for Outgoing Board Chair

Mary Allen, Director of Communications
Gen. John Tilelli stands with a group of ROTC cadets at a Veterans Day ceremony.
Retired Gen. John Tilelli '63, third from right, is the outgoing chair of Widener's Board of Trustees.

Widener University will honor outgoing Board of Trustees Chair Gen. John Tilelli by naming the suite of offices that house the university’s Army ROTC program in his honor.
Tilelli, a 1963 graduate of Pennsylvania Military College, presided over his final board meeting as chair in May, after five years in the leadership role. He joined the board nearly 20 years ago and will continue to serve as a board member, as well as on the executive committee as past chair.

Head shot of Gen. John Tilelli as a PMC cadet.

Tilelli is a retired four-star general who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and commanded the First Calvary Division during the 1991 Gulf War. The Hanna Hall office suite that will bear his name is home to one of the region’s largest ROTC programs, comprising roughly 150 cadets who are enrolled at Widener and seven other regional colleges and universities. Together, they make up the Dauntless Battalion.

“General Tilelli has been a steadfast and skilled leader for the board. His deep commitment and passion for the university are evident to all who talk with him and I am very grateful for his selfless service to Widener,” President Julie E. Wollman said. “I cannot think of a more fitting tribute for a man whose military service and whose commitment to the university have been so steadfast, selfless and exceptional.”

A generous supporter of the university, Tilelli, who lives in Virginia, is Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Cypress International, an Alexandria-based management consulting firm for the defense industry. He established the Tilelli Annual Endowed Leadership Scholarship at Widener, to benefit a member of the ROTC Dauntless Battalion or a veteran, as well as the Tilelli Leadership Fellowship Endowment. The fellowship provides opportunities for graduate students whose scholarly research contributes to the university’s enduring commitment to developing strategic leaders and responsible citizens.

He was honored with the outstanding alumnus award in 1992, and an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree in 1996, when he served as commencement speaker. He spoke at the ROTC Commissioning ceremony in 2005 and at the university’s Veterans Day event in 2018. He has recorded an oral history of cadet life and donated items to the PMC Museum.

Head shot of retired Gen. Tilelli

“All the honors I have received, I owe to more individuals than can be named, but I am honored to be affiliated with the Dauntless Battalion and Widener University,” Tilelli said. “Of particular note and representative of ROTC leadership, I could not have accomplished anything without the hard work of the men and women who serve and wear our nation’s cloth. I share with them this honor.”

Widener will officially dedicate the office suite to Tilelli with an in-person ceremony after Coronavirus-related government restrictions are lifted and the campus is safely reopened. 

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