For decades, ROTC was Trinity’s path to service
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ROTC Cadets with a gun

After the conclusion of World War II, but with the Korean War looming, Trinity considered establishing a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

In 1948 the Board of Trustees hesitantly proposed to introduce a voluntary ROTC unit, with Dean Bruce Thomas polling campus and reporting early in 1951 that a majority favored the establishment of some type of military training on campus. So, the Trustees made applications for an Army, Marine, or Air Force ROTC unit, with the Army agreeing to tender an offer to establish a unit if the University required all males who enrolled at Trinity to participate in ROTC during their first two years on campus. This participation would also give males an automatic draft deferment.

The ROTC program began in the fall of 1952 and was estimated to cost the University approximately $1,000 annually. The compulsory aspect of the program engendered sustained opposition over the years, but in the long run it stabilized male enrollment and provided scholarships for men who opted for the four-year course and subsequent enlistment as commissioned officers.

ROTC Cadets in the sun

The program would remain obligatory until 1970, when Trinity President James Laurie acknowledged growing dissatisfaction among students and faculty regarding compulsory ROTC in the University curriculum. Acknowledging that a voluntary program was both feasible and appropriate, Laurie endorsed the report of a faculty committee that recommended the abolishment of mandatory participation in the military program.

The ROTC program would eventually cease operations entirely at the close of the 1990-91 academic year, due to a general cutback in the U.S. army reserve program throughout the country. With ROTC gone, the University was also unfortunately prompted to shut down the Department of Military Science.

Though Trinity no longer has an on-campus program, Tigers can still cross-enroll at military reserve programs in the Air Force ROTC unit at the University of Texas in San Antonio, and with the Army ROTC unit with St. Mary’s University.

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