of the Army ROTC at the University of Colorado
The Army ROTC program at the University
of Colorado in Boulder dates back to 1883
with the establishment of the Cadet Corp.
Early members of the Cadet Corps at
the University of Colorado on the steps
of Old Main in 1888. Photo courtesy
of CU Library Archives.
The History of Army
ROTC at the University of Colorado
In 1883 students at the University of
Colorado in Boulder established a voluntary
cadet corps in order to “drill in
the schools of the soldier and the company”.
The state of Colorado issued the cadets
Army infantry uniforms, weapons, and equipment.
They were supervised by Lieutenant W. Hasson,
an engineer officer assigned by the Department
of the Navy to the University to help establish
an engineering department.
Cadet Corps, although it had no official
military affiliation and did not serve
in any military campaigns, represented
an early University interest in establishing
military officer training on campus. In
1914 the first official military units
were established on campus. Troop D, 1st
Battalion of Cavalry, Colorado Militia
and Engineer Company B, Colorado National
Guard were raised from University students.
These two units were federalized and sent
to Doublas, Arizona in 1916 following Pancho
Villa’s attack on Columbus, New Mexico.
The Birth of Army ROTC at the University
June 3, 1917 the Reserve Officers’ Training
Corps (ROTC) program was established
by Congress but the Army declined the
University of Colorado administration
request for a unit in Boulder. In October
1917 the University faculty voted to
establish its own voluntary ROTC program.
A retired Army officer, Captain James
A. Merritt was put in command by the
early 1918 the War Department established
a Student Army Training Corps (SATC) at
the University for students who had been
drafted. This program allowed them to continue
in school and simultaneously trained them
in specialties such as automobile mechanics,
radio and telegraphy operations, concrete
construction, and general mechanics. Some
were allowed to transfer into the Navy
while in the program.
As enlisted members they wore uniforms,
lived in campus barracks, and were paid
$30 per month. Some of the 452 SATC members
were selected for commissioning. All of
the first 38 to graduate in 1918 were deployed
to Europe. After the end of World War I
the SATC program was closed.
In 1940 the University requested a ROTC
program. The War Department declined but
established on campus three enlisted Army
reserve training units including Army Air
Corps and Signal Corps elements. In June 1942, the Navy moved its Japanese language school from California to the University. During World war II, a Navy enlisted pre-radar, radio, flight and cooks and bakers schools operated on campus, but an Army ROTC activity was not re-established until 1948.
World War II and
Following World War II the University
again requested a ROTC program and in 1948
the Army established its first official
ROTC program on campus. The first graduates
were commissioned in the Engineer Corps
in 1950. The CU program was later expanded
to produce officers in all branches.
Early members of the ROTC program at the Colorado School
of Mines drill on the parade grounds near campus
in the 1951. The Colorado School of Mines program
was later incorporated into the program at the University
of Colorado - Boulder in 1991.
In 1980, Army ROTC was offered to students
in the Denver area by establishing a UC-Boulder
Extension Center at Metropolitan State
College in Denver. In 1997 this was
closed and replaced with a cross-enrollment
1991, a cross-enrollment (with presence)
agreement with the Colorado School of
Mines in Golden was established when that
host program was closed due to declining
enrollment and Army down-sizing. The
Army ROTC unit at the Colorado School of
Mines was then incorporated into the
CU program. This small engineering school
had a rich Army ROTC tradition going back
to 1918. In the 1960’s the program
was mandatory for all male students and during
the Vietnam era the school was known as the “West
Point of the West” since it produced
more engineer officers than any other institution,
including the U.S. Military Academy (U.S.M.A). Today
the Mines operation is healthy and represents
an important part of the overall UC-Boulder
AROTC program. The combined
unit is one of 270 Army ROTCs in the nation.
Students attending AROTC are from partnership and
affiliate colleges such as Regis University, the
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences
Center, Metropolitan State College, Denver University,
Colorado Christian University, and local community
colleges. Students participate in the Army ROTC program
by attending classes taught at CU Boulder and by
commuting to the nearby Golden campus.
Overall the total multi-school program traditionally
is considered among the best nation-wide, with training
scores and retention rates significantly above national
norms. Today’s program proudly upholds the
tradition of producing young men and women of character
who will lead America’s Army.