The next Regimental Commander Dibastiani
Every year, a significant change occurs within the Norwich Corps of Cadets. Along with incoming rooks, selecting new freshmen cadre and handing out responsibilities, the corps requires one key player: The next cadet colonel.
"I am very proud of the quality involved with the process we use to select the next cadet colonel," said Brigadier General Michael Kelley, vice president of student affairs and commandant of cadets. "We've used this process over the last five years, and only the finest student leader gets selected."
Through a long, well-thought-out process, the newest cadet colonel is chosen by the university president to lead the corps into the next academic year.
The cadet colonel for the 2011-2012 academic year is Cadet 1st Sgt. Don Dibastiani, a 20-year-old junior who has a double major in business management and accounting, from Whitehall, Md.
Dibastiani has set out four major goals for the Corps of Cadets.
"If you'd like to sum up my big goals, they are: Moving towards a paperless administration system, working on integrating and reforming the provisional battalion, activities to offer upperclass cadets and to improve the relationship between the corps and the community, such as athletes and the civilian population," Dibastiani said.
Dibastiani plans to work more with digital information, rather than paper, to avoid an excessive paperwork overload on his subordinates.
Dibastiani also plans to improve the workings of the Corps of Cadet's provisional battalion, which contains band, drill, cavalry and artillery companies.
Dibastiani is working with Colonel Edwards, the assistant commandant in charge of provisional battalion, to improve it. Some changes may include adding regular line company upperclassmen into the provisional battalion, to adjust the corps of cadets' numbers.
Dibastiani is working to give upperclassmen more activities together to improve unit cohesion. "I'd like to get the Corps of Cadets active, rather than have them sit around doing nothing on the weekends. Everything from going out and shooting hoops to a major, yet enjoyable, training event."
"I want these things to be fun, not necessarily mandatory. It's only to get upperclassmen on their feet for the weekends," Dibastiani said.
Dibastiani also values the relationship between the Corps of Cadets and the community.
"I intend to improve the relationship with athletes, as well as the civilian students. We'll work with new ideas as the year progresses," Dibastiani said.
Dibastiani is also proud to have a well-mixed staff to work with, coming from all branches of service.
"I value working with people. You benefit a lot more when you have a staff that's all four branches," Dibastiani said. "You end up with a whole lot more ideas. I'm Air Force, Cadet Day is Navy, Cadet Racine, our regimental command sergeant major, is Army, and we have many other subordinates from the Marine Corps as well."
So with a well-placed staff, a set list of objectives to accomplish, and a positive mindset, Dibastiani plans to run this next year for the Corps of Cadets very smoothly.
Dibastiani was selected after a thorough determination process.
"When the papers came down for rank application, at first I thought, ‘Why not?' So I applied for the highest position," said
Dibastiani. "I did well as a first sergeant, and I had some good ideas for the corps."
Dibastiani is the first sergeant for cadet training company five, one of the six freshmen companies, formed to train recruits for life in the Corps of Cadets. Dibastiani didn't initially think of being a cadet first sergeant after his sophomore year.
"I actually applied for platoon sergeant as my first choice, and staff sergeant as my second choice for my junior year," Dibastiani said. "Once I became a first sergeant, I was really fortunate with the people I got. I didn't know any of them, but that benefitted me. We got to learn each other, and work together."
After performing well as a cadet first sergeant, Dibastiani applied for and began the process to become the next cadet colonel. He was first interviewed on a board, and after passing through the board phase, moved on to the next pool of seven candidates.
"I interview the seven candidates myself. This is another reason I am so proud of our selection process; when I interview these candidates, I have a clean slate for these seven," Kelley said. "I am impartial to who they are and what they are like, before the interviews."
Once those seven candidates are interviewed by Kelley, four are selected to meet with President Richard Schneider.
"Once I recommend the top four candidates, I send them to the president," Kelley said. "I send them to him with what I call the ‘hard data,' their PT scores, their grades and the like. I make sure the president can make his own judgments on those four candidates."
This year, the four candidates to make it to this last phase were cadets William Day, Ross Reid, Joshua Fontanez and Dibastiani. Schneider remembers a major factor in his decision.
"When I sat these candidates down to talk, separately, I asked a distinct question: ‘Which one of your peers would be an excellent student and cadet leader?'," Schneider said. "A majority of them agreed, unknowingly, that Cadet Dibastiani was a good fit."
Dibastiani balances his personal life as an athlete on the baseball team along with his rigorous academics as a double major. However, he is not commissioning in his ROTC branch, the Air Force.
He explained, "I originally came here as a Navy ROTC midshipman, but with time, I decided not to commission into the service. I can still use my experience as a leader in the Corps of Cadets, well into the civilian world."
Once the president made his own selection for cadet colonel, Kelley, Schneider and the initial seven candidates enjoyed a luncheon to announce the president's decision.
"We invited the seven candidates we started with, and made the announcement to them. This was ultimately the president's decision," Kelley said.
"This selection process isn't some sort of magic, because it's a lot of preparatory work. But at the end of the day, only the finest cadets earn the title of cadet colonel. Dibastiani is an excellent selection," Kelley said.
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