In 1918, the then-Municipal University of Akron was part of the U.S. Army’s first major expansion of its reserved officers’ training corps program, or ROTC. UA was one of the 89 added units around that time, bringing the total number of university-based programs to 135. Today, there are currently over 20,000 ROTC cadets in 273 programs at major universities throughout the United States.
Akron ROTC is unique in holding the title as the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Battalion. Most programs have an informal title rather than an official designation. The 42nd Ohio’s lineage goes back to the infantry battalion commanded by former president and then-Col. James A. Garfield during the American Civil War.
On June 6, 1922, Cadet Maj. Willard B. Melvin and Cadet Capt. Conrad Van Hyning were the first graduates to receive a commission as second lieutenants. They both went on to serve in the Army Reserve.
John S. Ballard, mayor of Akron from 1966-1979, was commissioned by Akron ROTC and was a lieutenant in Gen. George S. Patton’s Army in Africa during WWII.
Officers commissioned through Akron ROTC have held positions of command and responsibility for a century. They have led thousands of members of the Armed Forces in every conflict since 1940. Eight second lieutenants have gone on to end their military careers as generals.
During World War II, the U.S. War Department established an Air Corps unit on the UA campus. It was officially designated a separate ROTC program under the U.S. Air Force in 1947. That program lasted until June 2005, when it was integrated with Kent State University, which has a crosstown enrollment agreement with UA
In 1955, Akron ROTC commissioned its 1,000th graduate.
Early students earned high honors in physical and rifle competitions, and in the student organizations Pershing Rifles and the Scabbard and Blade. Today’s cadets participate Summit Rifles and Ranger Company. They continue the tradition of excellence among their peers winning and placing in regional and national physical challenge competitions.
The 1970s brought several “firsts” for female students, including:
The first female cadets to participate in ROTC (1970);
The first female cadet to be commissioned, who was in the Air Corps ROTC (1974);
The first female cadet commissioned to the Army Nursing Corps upon graduation;
The first female cadet to command the cadet battalion;
The first female cadet to receive a regular Army appointment; and
The first female cadet to become Airborne and Air Assault qualified.
In addition to leadership training, Akron ROTC provides generous scholarship options to students that cover tuition, fees, books and a monthly stipend while studying the degree of their choice. Cadets leave the program as second lieutenants serving in active duty, the Army Reserve or National Guard, and are guaranteed a strong start in their career path.