In 1891, the University of Arizona was allowed to open its doors under provisions of the 1885 Morril Act. These provisions were regulated by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of
Arizona and required that military training be taught there. The first University Catalogue provided for the position of Professor of Military Science and Tactics; however, no classes were conducted.
In March of 1896, the faculty resolved that a course in Military Science and Tactics be conducted for all male students. During this first year, it was planned that the Cadet Battalion be affiliated with the Arizona Territorial National Guard. This permitted theTerritorial Governor to commission those cadets who desired and were worthy of a National Guard Commission.
In 1920, the establishment of Cavalry instruction transformed the program into a close relationship with the University administrators, students, and intercollegiate sports. Cavalry instruction provided horses for the popular college sport of polo. Cavalry instruction and polo proved extremely popular with the Arizona community and the University.
In the fours years that followed the outbreak of World War II, 11,000 military men received training at the University of Arizona in four different programs. The University reported in 1945, over 10,000 men graduated from the Naval Training School; 591 from the Naval Aviation School; 283 from the Army Specialized Training Program, and 331 from the Civil Aeronautic Authority's two programs.
TURN OF THE CENTURY - DORM ROOMS AT SOUTH HALL
This accounting does not include regular ROTC program enrollments which steadily declined in strength through out the war years due to the enlistment of much of the school's male population.
In 1947, the U.S. Congress reorganized the structure of the armed forces with the result that the Army Air Corps became a separate federal department: The Department of the Air Force. With the addition of Navy ROTC in 1984, the organization of military science departments at the University of Arizona was established as it is today.
On 30 November 1968, the Arizona State Board of Regents considered the motion to make ROTC voluntary, and elected to do so in 1969. Military instruction had remained mandatory for two years for every male student up until this date. Prior to this decision, the University of Arizona Army ROTC was the largest program west of the Mississippi River.
Air Force, Army and Navy ROTC moved into the present building at South Hall in September 1987. Today, Air Force ROTC at the University of Arizona continues to set the standard within the region, and continues the proud tradition of military leadership and instruction.