General Willard Scott (Ret) obit


10-Year Member
Dec 5, 2007
Willard W. Scott Jr. Is Dead at 82; Led West Point Through Change


Published: The New York Times, January 3, 2009

Willard W. Scott Jr., a former artillery man and lieutenant general who lifted academic and social standards as leader of the United States Military Academy at West Point after it was roiled by a cheating scandal and the introduction of women as cadets, died on Thursday at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 82.

The cause was a form of Parkinson’s disease, his daughter Margaret Scott said.

A 1948 graduate of West Point who commanded troops in Vietnam and in Germany, General Scott served as the military academy’s superintendent from 1981 through 1986, after a period of extraordinary turmoil.

“That’s one of the most difficult jobs in the Army, and he did it at a critical time,” said Gen. Edward C. Meyer, a former Army chief of staff. “There was concern about whether or not we were getting the right quality of cadets in there, and it was about the time we were introducing women. He did a superb job in straightening out some of the problems.”

During the 1970s, the academy had drastically increased the number of cadets just as applications were declining. The Army’s technical needs were expanding, but West Point was one of the few colleges in the country not offering major fields of study. By Congressional mandate, the academy began admitting women in 1976 — a few months after revelations of widespread cheating in an engineering class, a blow to the honor code that also exposed a culture that had taken intense competition to destructive levels.

The Army decided to extend the term of the West Point superintendent to five years and to appoint only generals who intended to retire and thus would not be competing for another star, according to Carl H. McNair Jr., a retired major general who served on the academy’s board.

“General Scott was a figure of history at the academy, the first one, at least in modern time, to take over for five years,” General McNair said. “He was the ideal person to step in at that period.”

General Scott, who began his military service after World War II, was open to modernization, both academic and social. While he was superintendent, cadets were allowed for the first time to pick a major field of study as the number of required courses was reduced and more electives were offered.

In addition, the academy created an office of artificial intelligence within the computer science department to develop academic strength in what was then an embryonic field. An engineering program was given academic accreditation by the national Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. An Honor Education Program was also created for cadets to teach and question one another about ethical issues.

General Scott worked to ease resistance to the presence of women that was led by prominent and vocal alumni, including Gen. William C. Westmoreland. Because sports for women and men must have parity under federal education law, the academy changed some of its traditional men’s varsity teams to club sports, a source of distress for some graduates.

General Scott’s response included getting professional coaches for women’s teams rather than volunteers, finding barbers who knew how to cut women’s hair and making a painstaking expedition in search of marching boots that fit women.

“It was a cultural change that the Army and the nation had to experience,” General McNair said.

While he was a student at West Point, General Scott met Justine Dorney, whom he married in 1948. They raised seven children in postings around the world. Besides his daughter Margaret, of New York, and Mrs. Scott, he is survived by his daughters Mary Starner of Springfield, Va.; Elizabeth Raveché of Hoboken, N.J.; Catherine Rosenshein of Montclair, N.J.; Susan Shanahan of Honolulu; and Ann Marie Kilkelly of Hanover, Pa.; his son, W. Warren Scott III of Canberra, Australia; 25 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

General Scott was a spirited presence at West Point football games, hopping on the Army mascot, a mule, and riding it along the sidelines, wielding a saber and leading a cheer after a touchdown, a practice he continued long into retirement. In his honor, one of the academy’s mules is formally named General Scott but is familiarly known as Scotty, as was its namesake.