The tradition of training college students for military leadership began in 1819 at what is now Norwich University. The ROTC program that we know today, however, is a result of the National Defense Act of 1916. This act established ROTC and authorized a Second Lieutenant’s commission to those who successfully completed the program.
First Lieutenant John Stafford served as the first Professor of Military Science for Washington University in 1891. In December of 1918, the university and the War Department negotiated to formally establish a ROTC detachment. Voluntary enrollment began in January of 1919.
Training continued until the onset of World War II. At that time, cadets in the Advanced Course were brought onto active duty as officers to serve the war effort. Those in the Basic Course were soon drafted. Army ROTC was reinstated at the university in 1946 as an anti-aircraft artillery unit and continued as such until conversion to the General Military Science Program in 1960. The Revitalization Act of 1964 introduced the ROTC scholarship and the two-year program.
In 1979, the Army ROTC program moved to the Academy Building on Millbrook Boulevard (Forest Park Parkway). An extension center was established at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in March 1980, but moved to Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Illinois, in June 1993. In 1999, SIUE gained host-center status and broke off from the Gateway Battalion as an independent battalion.
In the past few years, the Gateway Battalion has expanded its efforts to reach all the St. Louis-area schools. Gateway founded an extension center at Lindenwood University in 2000. Basic-course classes are also now offered at St. Louis University.
Currently the Gateway Battalion includes 11 schools in the St. Louis area. For the past several years, the Gateway Battalion has met or exceeded the commission mission. Recently, Gateway was ranked number two out of the 270 ROTC programs across the nation.