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Military Science at SHSU

ROTC at Sam Houston State University

The Sam Houston State University ROTC program, also known as the Department of Military Science, was created in June 1952. It has significantly changed since its establishment on the SHSU campus. Throughout the United States, ROTC has been created and implemented at many colleges and universities and has increased in the number of students, who are called cadets, who are seeking to serve our nation. The Department of Military Science at SHSU is known as the Bearkat Battalion, where cadets learn how to acquire exemplary leadership skills to apply in life and the United States Army, as a future military officer. Learning how to be a military officer through the implementation of ROTC was enforced and brought to fruition from an official Army Order. [2]

Specifically, Army ROTC is a prominent leadership program instilled at not just SHSU, but nationally. ROTC is short for Reserve Officer Training Corps, and which was first known as the SROTC. SROTC was short for Senior Reserve Officer Training Corp, however that acronym is no longer used. ROTC is a college program, funded by the United States military, where it is offered at over many post-secondary education institutions across the United States. ROTC is an excellent program, because it prepares individuals who are regular civilians to become officers in the U.S. Army through its discipline standards. The program is nationally prided on promoting leadership and excellence, which is are integral and important characteristics to have as a leader. The National Defense Act of 1916 was a component in the formation of the Bearkat Battalion. It allowed the president to acquire a bigger role in deploying troops. During the time of ROTC programs developing at colleges and universities, World War II had just ended. Throughout the creation of the program, benefits and financial accommodations for veterans, as well as dependents were formulated by the government in an effort to increase the size of the program. The benefits such as a monthly stipend, scholarships, and internships, were offered and are still offered to attract more students in the program. These attractions were dangled over students who eligible to enter the program, who were not essentially financially able to afford college. In return, cadets’ in past, as well as today sign a contract to serve a specific amount of time owed to by the military, in whatever military Army branch they desire. Today, many colleges and universities have either multiple service programs with different branches or a singular program with both men and women cadets. They commission numerous cadets upon completion of graduation in the military each semester throughout the year. In the program, students receive valued training, where they are disciplined and follow a particular standard of conduct regulated by the U.S. Army and Cadet Command. Cadets are challenged by upholding these values, while completing their undergraduate degree in any field or major, as well as balancing the activities and fun that come with college and discipline of the military. [1]

At the time of its creation, the United States was and still is the world’s strongest military power. Power from the U.S. military came from its funding, training techniques, and technological advancements. The culmination of World War II allowed American families to acquire peace and relief through the formulation of families in, what was known as the Baby Boom Era. The economy was steady, and political stability was being enforced and maintained from the National Defense Act. Due to stability and no extreme efforts that the government had to fund such as a war, they sought relinquish their funds in service of veterans and their families. They also sought to fund American resources such as national parks, the construction and formation major highways and interstates, and colleges and universities. [3]

Racial tensions in East Texas and throughout America allowed only healthy, young, white males, who were ideally within society were considered qualified to enroll. No females or people of color were accepted in the program at that time. Women were allowed to enroll the program as cadets with the same benefits as the males, at the start of the 70’s. This initial requirement of every male qualified to join halted, due to an increasing rate of enrollment. The unification of both genders, however, was due to an Aviation program allowing women to train and become pilots and Aviator specialists. Today, the Fall 2019 SHSU Department of Military Science is comprised of cadre members, who are experienced commissioned and noncommissioned officers and over one hundred student cadets, ranging from all classifications, and a variety of majors. The Department began with five students. Those five cadets became Army Officers in 1954, where they were first to commission from the university. Criminal Justice is the largest major by far, due to cadets wanting to pursue a career in federal law enforcement after their served time. The program now also has Military Science as a declared minor, where cadets and non-cadets enrolled at Sam Houston can take and learn. Many of the cadets nationwide, as well at the Bearkat Battalion are also comprised of prior enlisted service members, whether they were previously enlisted as Active duty, or who are still current members of the National Guard or Army Reserve. Those cadets, however receive different benefits outlined in the agreement of their contract. A difference in the program that has occurred has been the level and intensity of training, not only amongst cadets, however the military as an entire entity. The training value was less than it was today due to the constant threats of terrorism at home and abroad. A series of historical events such as World War II, the Cold War, and the devastating event that happened on September 11, 2001 has shaped the way the military fights and trains today. Throughout ROTC, a new curriculum of learning several fighting tactics has been implemented. Most of the training during the formation of the Department of Military Science, culminated in military knowledge, however the training has widely extended to teaching cadets about other countries and the way their military operates. The heavy importance emphasized on understanding and being able to execute a series of tactics are to be able to be utilized at any point in time. Elliot T. Bowers the active SHSU, president at the time facilitated the program to conduct house cadets in the what was known as the Randle House, that is no longer apart of the SHSU campus. The ROTC Learning and Living Community was specifically for cadets only. Learning and Living Communities are still a part of the campus culture at SHSU. The program now conducts classes at the third Academic Building on campus. Labs are conducted at Gibbs Ranch, where cadets train on missions and Land Navigation. The training site is owned by the prominent Gibbs Family from Huntsville. The second floor of the Academic Building is comprised of the programs supply all which is funded by the U.S. Cadet Command under the U.S. Army. The supply incudes uniforms, weapons and other pieces of equipment essential for training provide by the U.S. Army. [4]

Throughout the expansion of the program and university, the ROTC program has been able to give top cadets the opportunity to attend special military schools and other training events beneficial to their budding career in the military as an officer, unlike at the start of its creation. Throughout the summer, cadets can be chosen to schools, such as Air Assault School, Airborne School, summer training at West Point Military Academy, as well as numerous internships. Furthermore, the Department of Military Science has progressed exponentially, through its training and in its efforts to support and commission soldiers in the U.S. Army.


Former Member of the Program Oral Interview This interview is conducted upon an anonymous former member of the ROTC program at Sam Houston State University.


Honoring SHSU Army ROTC Sam Houston's Newton Gresham Library honoring the longevity of the Department of Military Science. Source:
Commissioning Ceremony ROTC Cadets commissioning into the United States Army as second lieutenants with various branches. Source:
ROTC Location The ROTC program located outside of Academic Building III at SHSU. The cannons represent the program and are used football games. Source:
ROTC Lab Cadet Way training to attend Air Assault School in Fort Benning, Georgia. Source: Michael Way


Sam Houston State University Box 2298 Huntsville, Texas 77341-2298


Michael Way, “Military Science at SHSU,” East Texas History, accessed November 30, 2023,