Colonel Andrew Wilcox is the commanding officer of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps for Penn, Drexel, Temple and Villanova. 

Credit: Yolanda Chen

Life lessons are at the top of the syllabus in Colonel Andrew Wilcox’s curriculum.

Wilcox, the commanding officer of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps for Penn, Drexel, Temple and Villanova, teaches the required “Leadership and Ethics” course in NROTC.

“The University teaches how to critically think,” Wilcox said. “We try to bring that education and make it relevant in the world of the military.” As a marine, he recognizes “the platform I have to master is the art of leadership.”

Each week, Wilcox holds what he calls an “L3” - life and leadership lesson. During these sessions, he shares anecdotes from his own career in the Marine Corps and discusses how he was able to come to the right or wrong decision.

“I take the things I’ve learned in 28 years [as a marine] that they’re going to taste and give it in spoonfuls at a time,” Wilcox said.

“It’s something I certainly can’t teach myself,” Matthew Weber, a Wharton junior and member of the Marine division of the NROTC, said. “You’re not going to find it in any textbook.”

Temple senior Constantine Filipos added that the L3 program is “beneficial in civilian and military life,” such as how one can “learn more from mistakes than from success.”

The NROTC program hosted at Penn, which provides students who will serve in navy after graduation with university scholarships and military training, has undergone staff changes in the past year, including the addition of Wilcox to the team. Students have noticed a marked increase in the quality of the program.

“Colonel Wilcox has definitely stepped it up a notch,” Drexel sophomore Heather Schmidt said. “He brings in the intensity this program needs ... [and] people have come to realize [it] is a lot more serious.”

Filipos agreed that he “couldn’t be happier with the staff change ... The standards have definitely gone up. We should be training to imitate what we [will be] doing as officers.”

Wilcox employs and teaches his three main tactics of motivating people: fear, love and guilt.

“Any kind of respect is a form of love,” he explained, adding that this should be the default approach.

Lieutenant Brian Miller, sophomore aviation adviser, recognized this strategy in Wilcox’s management of his staff.

“He has full faith in our ability to prepare our students,” Miller said.

Wilcox also leads by example. Despite being significantly older than his college-aged students, “he puts a lot of effort to ensure he’s still attempting to be the best marine out there,” Miller said of Wilcox.

Filipos added that an officer can’t lead by example “unless you are the best version of yourself.”

“At hikes, he’s always at the front,” Schmidt said. “Seeing him leading from the front ... is a wakeup call for me especially.”

Wilcox encourages his staff to be the best versions of themselves as well. He urges them to “use all the tools available to better [themselves],” Miller said. This means getting a graduate degree while they are still a part of university and civilian life.

Wilcox shared a common military saying that seems to sum up his method: “Take care of your men, and they will take care of you.”

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