The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program was established by Act of Congress on March 4, 1925. To that time virtually all Navy Officers were commissioned through the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. On May 14, 1940 Dr. William B. Bizzell, president of the University, informed the Navy Department in Washington, D.C. that the State Board of Regents had approved the application for an NROTC Unit at the University of Oklahoma and on June 13, 1940, word was received from the Navy Department that OU had been selected as the site for a new NROTC Unit.
In 1940 when the NROTC Unit was formed at OU there were only 9 other NROTC units active in the nation. On June 22, 1940 Commander J. C. Van de Carr, U.S. Navy (Retired) – a mathematics professor at the University – was recalled to active duty and reported to Dr. Bizzell to form the new NROTC Unit. During registration for classes in September 238 candidates were reviewed for the program. From these initial applicants, 128 passed the physical exam and 105 were ultimately enrolled.
Although Captain Robert S. Haggart, U.S. Navy was assigned as the first Commanding Officer and Professor of Naval Science and Tactics of the Unit, he was soon transferred and CDR J. C. Van de Carr once again stepped forward and was named his successor.
World War II greatly increased the Navy’s requirement for officers which even the growing NROTC program could not meet. While not formally associated with the NROTC Unit, a wartime program called V-12 was created at OU in an attempt to meet the demand for officers. By the end of the war there were over four hundred V-12 students on campus. When the V-12 initiative ended on June 30, 1946 about half of these students transferred into the NROTC program.
In August 1946, President Truman authorized the peacetime continuation of NROTC by signing Public Law 729. The program was designed to commission regular officers and supplement the number of officers produced at the Naval Academy. This new law also established the option for participants to receive regular commissions in the Marine Corps and eventually resulted in one Marine officer being assigned to each NROTC Unit as a full time instructor. NROTC Units are typically commanded by a Navy Captain or a Marine Corps Colonel, who is assisted by a small staff of instructors and administrative personnel.
Since its inception, the NROTC program has thrived. The University of Oklahoma is among an elite group of universities, colleges, and academies nationwide that continue to host NROTC Units and provide commissioned officers to both the United States Navy and Marine Corps.