Jayhawk Battalion History
Military training has a rich history at the University of Kansas, dating back to the Spanish-American War. During this conflict, 75 KU students and graduates joined the 20th and 22nd Kansas Volunteers Regiments. The 20th's battle cry was "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawks!" and sadly, the first KU casualty occurred during the war: 1LT Alfred C. Alford, KU Class of 1896. A former KU student, COL Frederick N. Funston, also received the Medal of Honor for his service in the war.
In the years following the Spanish-American War and leading up to World War I, Chancellor Strong was against formal military instruction as part of university activities. However, when the US entered the war, he reversed his decision, and in 1918, the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) was established as the forerunner of ROTC. MAJ B.T. Scher served as Commandant. SATC was created as an emergency measure to facilitate training draftees, and in order to commission, students had to complete an additional three weeks of training following SATC instruction. However, SATC was quickly disbanded in December 1918 due to logistical and pay issues, as well as difficulties integrating with academic classes. This setback delayed the formation of ROTC on campus until the fall of 1919.
In July 2, 1918, the War Department issued Bulletin 34, officially authorizing the formation of an Infantry unit of ROTC at the University of Kansas. However, this unit was withdrawn on November 30, 1920, for failing to meet the required strength under Section III of War Department Bulletin 40, which was issued in 1920.
Later on, in 1921, the War Department issued Bulletin 22, Section XIII, which authorized the creation of a Coastal Artillery Unit and an Engineer Unit at the University of Kansas. It is worth noting that these units were already formed at the University of Kansas, with the Engineer unit being established on September 1, 1919, and the Coastal Artillery unit on September 23, 1919.
Lieutenant Colonel Burdick, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, was the first Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the University of Kansas. However, he faced two major obstacles in establishing the ROTC program. Firstly, he had to persuade the faculty senate to approve the formation of ROTC, which was initially defeated in the first vote. However, after Colonel Burdick delivered an impassioned speech, it was approved during a second vote on February 17, 1919. Secondly, he had to ensure that the enrollment reached the minimum of 100 cadets required to sustain the program. To achieve this, Colonel Burdick went so far as to advertise "free vacations" (summer camps) to attract students to join the program. Ultimately, his efforts were successful, and the Army ROTC program at KU became a reality.
The first graduate of the University of Kansas Army ROTC program was W. L. McPherson, who received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Coastal Artillery Reserve Corps in February 1922.
During the 1920s and early 1930s 'everyone who was anyone' on campus was a member of ROTC. Fraternity presidents, sports team captains and student government members were all part of ROTC. Approximately 300 of the 1500 male students were enrolled in the ROTC program. During this time cadets enrolled in either the coastal artillery company or the corps of engineers company. In 1935, the engineer company was replaced by the infantry branch. Each company was affiliated with a branch and cadets would be commissioned into that branch. The first offices for the Army ROTC program were in the Old Robinson Gym. In 1923, classes and offices were moved in what is now the School of Journalism's building then called Fowler Hall.
During the mid 1930s a movement swept across campus claiming that disarmament was the key to world peace. This movement appeared on KU and several peace demonstrations were held. However the administration supported ROTC and the advent of World War II in Europe caused demonstrations to stop and enrollment to grow.
After the end of World War II, Army ROTC at KU was reestablished, and it was soon joined by Navy and Air Force ROTC. Because of the draft, ROTC enrollment at KU consisted of over half of the male students on campus. This trend continued until the late 1960s, when the Vietnam War led to a significant decrease in enrollment in ROTC programs nationwide. At KU, protests against the war and ROTC were common, and the ROTC program was temporarily suspended in 1970. However, it was reinstated in 1972 and has been an integral part of the university ever since. Today, the KU ROTC Battalion is composed of cadets from KU, Haskell Indian Nations University, and several other area colleges and universities.
The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Kansas (KU) has a proud and longstanding history, dating back to its establishment in 1918 in the aftermath of World War I. Today, KU's ROTC program is one of the top in the country and includes representation from all branches of the military. Since its founding, the program has commissioned over 2,000 second lieutenants.
Over the years, ten partner schools have worked with KU to provide cadets, although some of these partnerships have since ended. These schools include *Emporia State University (October 1973), Kansas City, Kansas Community College (August 1975), *Park College (January 1980), *Rockhurst (February 1980), Washburn University (December 1982), Johnson County Community College (March 1983), *Mid-America Nazarene College (January 1984), Baker University (March 1985), University of St. Mary (November 1993), and Haskell Indian Nation University (November 1993).
However, the Vietnam War and its unpopularity caused a peace movement to gain momentum on campus, leading to serious disturbances and challenges to ROTC's presence. In 1970, the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences voted to remove ROTC's academic credit, but ROTC was eventually able to regain this status in 1975. Since then, ROTC has remained a vital source of commissioning for the Active Component, US Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard.
* denotes discontinued partnership agreements
Timeline of Significant Events
1916 National Defense Act of 1916 authorizes creation of ROTC
1918 War Department Bulletin 34 authorizes ROTC to be formed at the University of Kansas
August 1918 First candidates for SATC meet at McCook Stadium
17 February 1918 KU Student Senate approves KU Army ROTC classes
1 October 1918 Induction ceremony for first SATC class at KU
September 1919 First KU Army ROTC class meets at Old Robinson Gym
February 1922 First KU Army ROTC Commissionee, W. L. McPherson
1923 ROTC offices and classes moved to Fowler Shops
September, 1935 Infantry Branch replaces Engineer Branch at KU Army ROTC
10 August 1943 Army Specialized Training Program established at KU
10 December 1943 Military Science Building dedicated and opened
30 March 1944 First ASTP commissionees shipped out
30 April 1965 KU Army ROTC Unit Crest unveiled (Jayhawk, Sunflower, Lamp of knowledge)
21 February 1969 MSB firebombed, minor damage by protesters
29 April 1969 Student protest at ROTC awards ceremony
Fall, 1969 ROTC accreditation challenged
Fall, 1974 First females admitted to KU Army ROTC
Fall, 1975 First female Army ROTC cadets admitted into Company E-7 Pershing Rifles
1 September 1988 First female Jayhawk Battalion Commander, C/LTC Janette Favreau
Fall 1991 KU Army ROTC accreditation again challenged due to Army’s homosexuality policy