St. Bonaventure welcomed its first class of cadets in 1936. The U.S. Army Cadet Command, formed in 1986, transformed ROTC into a centralized unit producing lieutenants of outstanding and uniform quality.
As one of more than 300 institutions offering the Army ROTC program, St. Bonaventure University conducts a voluntary general military science program.
The program was started in 1936 when Fr. Thomas Plassmann, university president, submitted an application to the War Department. The first two years of the program were mandatory for all students.
In September 1936, the first class of cadets began training on campus and in 1939, seven second lieutenants were commissioned. Twenty officers were commissioned in 1940 and 24 in 1941.
During World War II, ROTC training was suspended at St. Bonaventure in favor of the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). St. Bonaventure had the same status as an Army camp, and all the rules and regulations in force at Army bases applied on campus.
Two campus residence halls, Robinson and Falconio, were built as military barracks. Members of the classes of 1941-42 joined the enlisted reserve as corporals and upon graduation went to the Officer's Artillery Basic School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
The ASTP continued in effect until the end of the war in 1945, at which time the pre-war ROTC program was again instituted at St. Bonaventure with all ROTC graduates being commissioned into the Field Artillery Branch.
During the school year 1969-1970, a general military science (modified) program was instituted. In 1969, the university decreased the mandatory enrollment in ROTC from two years to one year, and in the 1970, the university's Board of Trustees voted to drop the prerequisite of ROTC altogether and make it an elective. The class of 1970 was the last class to graduate students subject to the ROTC requirement.
In addition to its main purpose of providing future officer leadership of the United States Army, the ROTC program at St. Bonaventure makes significant contributions to the community:
- The Gold Bar Club, a military social club with membership open to all students, is involved with community affairs and sponsors the Annual Military Ball.
- The University Color Guard, the most visible of ROTC programs, presents the colors in a ceremony of precision drill movements before every home basketball game and at other school events.
- The toughest and most respected aspect of our training program is Ranger Challenge, a club that provides adventure-related activities to interested cadets such as snowshoeing, rappelling, self-defense and survival training.
Army ROTC is the largest officer-producing organization within the American military, having commissioned more than half a million second lieutenants since its inception.
Women have been an integral part of the Army ROTC since school year 1972-1973. The first group of females from ROTC were commissioned in 1975-1976. Today, women constitute 20 percent of the corps of cadets and more that 15 percent of each commissioning cohort.
In April 1986, the U.S. Army Cadet Command was formed. Cadet Command transformed ROTC from a decentralized organization turning out a heterogeneous group of junior officers into a centralized command producing lieutenants of high and uniform quality.
Today, Army ROTC has 272 programs located at colleges and universities across the country, with an enrollment of more than 25,000. It produces more than 60 percent of the second lieutenants who join the active Army, the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve.
More than 40 percent of active duty Army general officers were commissioned through ROTC. Of even greater importance is that ROTC trained and educated officers bring a hybrid vigor to our officer corps by drawing on the strength and variety of our social fabric.
The Cadet Command Shield
The Cadet Command Shield symbolizes the Army mission of National Defense and is divided into quarters representing the four traditional military science courses comprising the senior ROTC curriculum:
- The sword signifies courage, gallantry, and self-sacrifice intrinsic to the profession of arms.
- The lamp denotes the pursuit of knowledge, higher learning, and the partnership of Army ROTC with American colleges and universities.
- The Greek helmet is symbolic of the ancient civilization concept of the warrior scholar.
- The motto "Leadership Excellence" expresses the ultimate responsibility of Army ROTC in the discharge of its moral responsibility to the nation.
Formal approval was granted by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry on 22 August 1986.