Skip to content

About the Program


"The Oldest State University West of the Missouri River"

Less than three years after the pioneer leaders entered the Salt Lake Valley; an act of the Provisional Government of the State of Deseret incorporated the University of Deseret as an institution of higher learning. Immediately after this incorporation on February 28, 1850, a committee of the first Board of Regents marked off to serve as a campus land between the present University Street and the Wasatch Mountains, while providing a large area for potential growth.

In 1851, the legislature of the newly formed territory of Utah ratified the incorporation act and sanctioned the class work that had been underway since the previous November. However, the pressure of the outside activities that claimed most of the settlers' time forced a suspension of formal class work in 1852.

Members of the Board of Regents elected by the legislature continued to hold regular meetings during this period until, in November 1867; they reopened the University and in 1869 reorganized it under the direction of Dr. John R. Park. The ideals of the University's founders have been upheld and are evidenced in Utah's record of maintaining the nation's highest state ratio of persons of college age who are actually attending college.

The University of Utah is the oldest State University west of the Missouri River. Just as Utah produces more college graduates per capita than any other state in the nation, the University of Utah grants more degrees annually than the other six state colleges and universities combined. The 27,000 University of Utah students represent every state in the nation and 100 foreign countries.

Today, the University of Utah is a place for learning and enjoyment. It is located on a 1,500-acre campus on the northeastern side of Salt Lake City on the foothills of the majestic Wasatch Mountains.

The University of Utah's 27,000 students are enrolled in more than 1,800 classes. A faculty of 2350 plus 3,000 clinical, research and adjunct fellows support their educational efforts. The students attending, the University has the opportunity to receive instruction in more than 90 fields of study leading to a bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. Two of the outstanding education resources include a library with more than 3 million bound volumes, and a fully staffed, internationally renowned Medical Center that is used for education and research.

History of Army ROTC at the University of Utah

Departments of Military Science and Tactics were organized 16 March 1891 on civilian college campuses with the establishment of what would become Norwich University. The idea soon spread to other institutions, including the Virginia Military Institute, the University of Tennessee, and the Citadel. The Land Grant Act of 1862 (also known as the Morrill Act) reinforced this tradition by specifying that courses in military tactics should be offered at the college and University campuses established as a result of this act.

By the beginning of the fall term 1891, drill had been made compulsory for all male students over fifteen years of age that were not excused by vote of the faculty and president. It was also compulsory for every member of the military department to provide himself with a uniform. The uniform was prescribed by the university and was furnished for a cost of $21 to the student.

From March of 1891 through the School Year of 1891-94, the University of Utah's Department of Military Science and Tactics carried out a vigorous program and were well received. However, at the conclusion of the academic year 1893-94, the military program was dropped for financial reasons and was not resurrected until April 1919.

Although 105 colleges and universities offered this instruction by the turn of the century, the college military instruction program was not closely associated with the Army's needs. The National Defense Act of 1916 abandoned the idea of an expandable Regular Army and emphasized the traditional concept of the citizens Army. The National Guard, the Army Reserve, and the Regular Army were organized together as the Army of the United States. Officers for these expanded citizens army were to be presented with military instruction in colleges and universities under a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Army ROTC was firmly established in the form by which it's known today.

The lineage of the University of Utah Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program dates to the National Defense Act of 1916, when less than one year after the passing of the Act, University of Utah students circulated a petition requesting that an ROTC unit be established on campus. In a Board of Regents meeting held on 17 May 1917, President John A. Widstoe read the petition to the Board. The Board of Regents approved the motion and action was taken to request the federal Government to establish such a unit. The actual establishment of a ROTC unit at the University of Utah, however, was delayed until April 1919.

During the 1919-20 school year, students could elect either Infantry or Field Artillery ROTC. After World War I, Infantry ROTC was dropped. The Field Artillery unit was in continuous operation until World War II. ROTC training continued at the University through the war years 1941-45, with the only change being that there was no advanced course (junior and senior years) taught in 1944-45. Men eligible for the advanced course were taken into the Army and sent to Officer's Candidate School (OCS). Starting with the academic year, 1946-47, the Army ROTC was back on a four-year program. The program became a General Military Science Program at the beginning of the school year 1953-54.

Mandatory ROTC enrollment for a minimum of one quarter was canceled by University officials effective September 1954. Enrollment dropped although the numbers of commissioned stayed high. The ROTC program was modified in 1964 by the ROTC Visualization Act. This Act provided for the ROTC scholarships, the Advanced Course subsistence allowance, and created the ROTC two-year program.

The Army ROTC is steeped in the traditions of the University through participation in the athletic program. The Military Science Department has a World War I cannon that it has named, "Ute Thunder". It was decommissioned in 2015 and sits in front of the Army ROTC building.  It has been repainted back to its original color of green.  An ROTC cannon crew use to operate "Ute Thunder" for University of Utah home football games, announcing each home touchdown with a firing.  Today the Utah National Guard supplies the cannon for the cannon crew to utilize.

Enrollment has been as high as 978 (SY 40-41). Lowest number commissioned in one year was three (SY 92-93) and the highest was 88 (SY 40-41). There were no commissions during the World War II years. A significant drop in enrollment occurred after the draft was discontinued following the Vietnam War. It then leveled off and maintained at around 120 with 15-25 commissions per year. The 1977-78 enrollment dropped again as the prior service, resources grew thin but the number of commission's has remained the same. During the 1980's and 1990's, enrollment and number of commissions again showed an upward trend. The War On Terrorism caused a significant drop at the beginning of the 2000's however, enrollment and commissioning are now back in the normal range again.

"Professional competence is more than a display of book knowledge or of the results of military schooling. It requires the display of qualities of character which reflect inner strength and justified confidence in one's self."

GEN Maxwell Taylor

Last Updated: 4/20/22