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Harvard ROTC was one of the first Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) units in the country, founded in 1916.[1] The original program was led by Captain Constant Cordier.[2][3] By the fall of 1952 forty percent of the incoming freshmen class at Harvard University enrolled in programs that led to a ROTC commission.

Harvard ROTC
Harvard Crimson logo.svg
ActiveFounded in 1916
AllegianceUnited States Navy, United States Army
RoleOfficer Training
Garrison/HQCambridge, Massachusetts
Bayonet Drill, Harvard ROTC at Stadium, 1917-1918
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) the Honorable Ray Mabus, left, and Harvard President Drew Faust sign a Memorandum of Agreement Restoring ROTC to Harvard
President Obama signs the repeal of DADT into law.

Harvard has the third most graduates who have received the Medal of Honor. With eighteen recipients, only West Point and the US Naval Academy have more.[4]

In 1969, in the middle of sometimes violent protests over the Vietnam War, Harvard downgraded the status of ROTC to an extracurricular activity. The cited reason was over academic standards on coursework.[5] The military’s official departure from Harvard began in the years that followed.[6][7] For the next several decades Harvard’s connection to ROTC was by allowing their students to take ROTC courses at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

By 1994, in the midst of the controversy over the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) law on homosexuality, Harvard committed to upholding ROTC ties, but only through indirect alumni contributions. This compromise prevented all ties from being severed as was recommended in the 1992 faculty committee report.[8][9]

Harvard University President Drew Faust promised a return of ROTC to campus, once DADT was repealed, in a speech with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen at the Kennedy School of Government on 17 November 2010.[10] In December 2010 Congress passed a bill to repeal President Bill Clinton’s 1993 DADT Policy.

On March 4, 2011, Harvard University President Drew Faust signed an agreement with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus formally recognizing the return of Naval ROTC to Harvard’s campus.[11][12] According to the agreement's terms, a Director of Naval ROTC would be appointed, and Harvard would provide funding for the program. The Navy agreement was structured to go into effect when the repeal of DADT was implemented, and was followed by a similar agreement with the Army.[13][14] President Barack Obama, who in his 2011 State of the Union address called on all universities to open their doors to ROTC,[15] responded through his spokesman by saying:

With our nation at war, this sends a powerful message that Americans stand united and that our colleges, society and armed forces are stronger when we honor the contributions of all our citizens, especially our troops and military families who sacrifice for our freedoms. As the president said in the State of the Union, it is time to move forward as one nation.

— Jay Carney, President Obama’s Spokesman, [16]


Harvard Medal of Honor recipientsEdit

Name Rank Service Conflict School [4]
Manning F. Force Major General US Army American Civil War Harvard College (1845) and Harvard Law School (1848)
Charles E. Phelps Brigadier General US Army American Civil War Harvard Law School (1853)
Horace Porter Brigadier General US Army American Civil War Harvard Lawrence Scientific School (1857)
Richard J. Curran Major US Army American Civil War Harvard Medical School (1859)
Henry Shippen Huidekoper Major General US Army American Civil War Harvard College (1862)
Hazard Stevens Brigadier General US Army American Civil War Harvard College (1865)
Henry W. Lawton General US Army American Civil War Harvard Law School (1866)
Wilmon W. Blackmar Brigadier General US Army American Civil War Harvard Law School (1867)
Leonard Wood General US Army Apache Campaign Harvard Medical School (1884)
Theodore Roosevelt Colonel US Army Spanish–American War Harvard College (1880)
Walter Hill Brigadier General US Marine Corps VeraCruz, Mexico Harvard College (1880)
George G. McMurtry Major US Army World War I Harvard College (1899)
Charles W. Whittlesey Lieutenant Colonel US Army World War I Harvard Law School (1908)
Claud A. Jones Rear Admiral US Navy USS Memphis (CA-10) destroyed near Santo Domingo City Harvard Graduate School of Applied Science (1913)
Pierpont M. Hamilton Major General US Air Force World War II Harvard College (1920)
Theodore Roosevelt II Brigadier General US Army World War II Harvard College (1909)
Sherrod E. Skinner 2nd Lieutenant US Marine Corps Korean War Harvard College (1951)
Robert C. Murray Staff Sergeant US Army Vietnam War Harvard Business School (1970)

Notable alumniEdit

Anthony G. Brown, Harvard College (1984) and Harvard Law School (1992), U.S. Representative (MD-4) and Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve

Paul G. Kirk, Harvard College (1960) and Harvard Law School (1964), Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (1985-1989), U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (2009-2010)

Eliot Asher Cohen, Harvard College (1977) and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1982), Counselor in the U.S. Department of State (2007-2009), Director of the Strategic Studies Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University


External linksEdit