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ROTC, which stands for Reserve Officer's Training Corps, is a program of military instruction that takes place on 270 college and university campuses nationwide. The origin of military instruction in civilian colleges dates back to 1819 when Captain Alden Partridge founded the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy, at Northfield, Vermont. Today, it is Norwich University. In 1862, the U.S. Congress recognized the need for military training at civilian educational institutions. The Morrill Land Grant Act was enacted to fulfill this need. This act donated lands and moneys to establish colleges that would provide practical instruction in agriculture, mechanical and military sciences.

The United States Army Reserve Officer's Training Corps dates from the National Defense Act of 1916. World War I prevented the full development of civilian educators and military professionals working together. At the conclusion of WWI, the program was fully implemented on college campuses. The success of this effort was demonstrated in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and recently wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. College campuses provided quality officers to meet the rapidly expanding needs of mobilization. In 1964, the ROTC Vitalization Act improved the program by adding scholarships and expanding Junior ROTC opportunities. Women joined the program in 1972.

ROTC returned to Fitchburg State University in 2007 after 15 years in hiatus. During those years, ROTC continued to commission Fitchburg State students in the United States Army officer corps through their participation in the Worcester Polytechnic Institute ROTC program. Today, WPI hosts the Army ROTC Bay State Battalion, comprised of cadets from the Colleges of the Worcester Consortium, and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Army ROTC in the Bay State Battalion prepares college students for bright futures as officers in the US Army, and provides commissions for the Regular Army, the Army Reserve and National Guard. ROTC enhances the full-time college curriculum of each cadet with training in the military sciences, building leadership skills sought after in the civilian workforce.