The Early Years
Military training has existed at the Pennsylvania State University since the university’s founding in 1855. The Farmer’s High School of Pennsylvania (which became the Pennsylvania State College in 1874) was one of the first schools founded by the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. This act offered federal land to college in return for college sponsored military training. Originally, the instructor was a civilian with military training experience. In 1878, a full time Professor of Military Science was assigned to Penn State.
Civil War through World War II
During the Civil War, cadets were deployed in response to the threatened confederate invasion. In June of 1916, the National Defense Act formally created an ROTC unit at Penn State. Until World War I, military instruction consisted principally of drill, with an occasional lecture on a subject of military interest. No attempt was made to present theoretical instruction and no academic credit was awarded. Following World War II, the military curriculum was expanded to include instruction in all branches of the Army, and ROTC units were established at the Berks and Abington-Ogontz campuses. Later, Altoona and Hazleton campuses added Army ROTC to their curriculum.
Cold War through Present
In 1955, specialized training for Cadets was abolished and replaced with general military science training. In 1960, the Wagner Building, the current home of the Nittany Lion Battalion, was opened. In 1962, the University Senate voted to end mandatory military training for students. In 1972, women joined the program. Today, Penn State Army ROTC is widely recognized as one of the top ROTC programs in the nation. Lieutenants commissioned from the Nittany Lion Battalion consistently perform above their peers in their Basic Officer Leadership Courses and in their units.
Nittany Lion Battalion Today
The Nittany Lion Battalion consists of four companies located at two Penn State campuses:
- Alpha Troop: Penn State University Park
- Bravo Battery: Penn State University Park
- Charlie Company: Penn State University Park
- Delta Company: Penn State Altoona
Penn State Army ROTC is one of 42 battalions in the US Army Cadet Command’s 2nd “Freedom” Brigade, which is headquartered at Fort Dix, NJ. It is included in the Eastern Region Cadet Command.