Naval ROTC

On September 23, 1945, less than a month after the end of the war, the military established a Naval ROTC unit on Columbia’s campus to train new officers for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. Until the late 1960s, the program had a visible presence on the Morningside campus. Its offices, and an NROTC lounge, were located in Hartley Hall; classes were held in University buildings; drills took place on South Field; and an armory was maintained in a building, currently belonging to Riverside Church, on Claremont Avenue at 120th Street.

Participating students devoted about 20 percent of their time to the program and received credit toward their Columbia degrees for their ROTC courses. The program paid for their tuition, room, board, and uniforms in return for a service obligation of four year.  On graduation, they were commissioned as ensigns in the Navy or as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps.

Naval ROTC continued without interruption at Columbia for twenty-eight years, but by the late 1960s  support on campus for military training waned, largely owing to opposition to the Vietnam war. In 1969, a faculty committee recommended that Columbia no longer award credit for ROTC courses.

In response, the Navy phased out the program, with the last of its students earning their commissions in 1973.

Midshipmen on College Walk.
Midshipmen on College Walk. Courtesy Columbia University Archives.