John Tarleton’s dream to create an institution of higher education for students of modest means today is reality. Tarleton State University offers an affordable, quality education and boasts graduates whose accomplishments would make its founder proud.

This monthly column, by an anonymous university author, looks at the school’s progress, issues of our time, achievements and challenges through the eyes of John Tarleton — a dreamer’s point of view.

Tradition. Integrity. Civility. Leadership. Excellence. Service.

Values at the very heart of Tarleton’s Texan Corps of Cadets.

Values embraced by men and women committed to become leaders in military and civilian life, and ultimately make our world a better, safer place.

The Corps began in 1917. Reinstated in 2016, it is more than 100 members strong — growth founded on Tarleton’s rich military heritage and stacked on the shoulders of Texan cadets turned American heroes.

Cadets like Maj. Gen. James Earl Rudder, a Tarleton alumnus highly decorated for his World War II heroism and later president of Texas A&M College and chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. And two-time Legion of Merit recipient Col. Willie L. Tate. And Lt. Col. William Dyess — namesake of Dyess Air Force Base — who survived the Bataan Death March. And Capt. Bob “Bullet” Gray, a pilot who fought in the Dolittle Raid right after Pearl Harbor. Robert Gray Army Airfield at Fort Hood bears his name.

Their heroism and patriotism, along with that of hundreds more like them, are woven into the fabric of today’s Texan Corps of Cadets.

Part student military organization and part premier leadership training program, the Texan Corps of Cadets is the nation’s only such group not associated with a senior military college.

Through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), many Texan cadets commission as officers in the Army, Air Force or Marines at graduation. Others follow a civilian track and obtain a minor in leadership studies with no military obligation.

Regardless of the path they choose, our cadets leave Tarleton prepared to serve as effective, successful front-runners in a world where commitment, perseverance and teamwork can make all the difference.

Their reputation is growing faster than a Texas prairie fire and increasing Corps enrollment. The fall 2018 freshman Corps numbers 75 students, and there’s still time to add more.

Texan Cadets are increasingly diverse, representing some 30 academic majors, from criminal justice to business, and about 20 percent are women.

They find the Corps academically and physically challenging. Students push one another to excel in the classroom and on the field. Last year the Corps placed second in a seven-state regional physical skills competition, beating out numerous top universities.

We’re fortunate to have two career-military leaders direct our program.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Kenny Weldon is commandant. A Stephenville native, he retired in 2011 after 26 years of military service and has been instrumental in reinstating the annual military ball and resurrecting the monthly University Retreat Ceremony — a rite dating to the Revolution that pays tribute to our nation, our flag and our veterans.

The ceremony takes place at 5 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month at the flagpole in front of the E.J. Howell Education Building. Everyone is invited.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lee Evans joins the Corps in August as assistant commandant. Originally from Mineral Wells, he retired a couple of years back after more than 22 years of service.

Yes, today’s Texan Corps of Cadets embodies a grand tradition.

Steeped in history.

Rich in heritage.

Focused on the future.