Marion Military Institute

Marion Military Institute History

Marion Military Institute, the oldest military junior college in the nation,was established in 1842 as “Howard English and Classical School” by the AlabamaBaptist Convention and was later known as “Howard College.”  Then locatedabout four blocks north of the current campus, Howard had a very modestbeginning in a single, small building, the same site where Judson College hadits beginning. A fire in 1844 completely destroyed the school building andprompted the movement of academic classes to Siloam Baptist Church while Marioncitizens allowed the faculty and students to live in their homes. Howardreturned to its original site in 1846 after the completion of a new schoolbuilding. After a second fire in 1854, Howard students were again housed withinthe community and classes were moved back to Siloam Baptist Church where schoolwas carried for one year until a new dormitory was completed on the site of thecurrent campus.

At the beginning of the Civil War, the Alabama Baptist Convention reportedthat the war was bearing especially hard on Howard College, so a militarydepartment was added to improve its popularity. Howard’s president, threeprofessors, and about forty students volunteered for service in the ConfederateArmy. In 1863, the Medical Director of the Confederate Army made applicationfor use of the college as a hospital. Permission was granted, and the collegewas suspended soon afterward. Lovelace Hall, built in 1854, and the Chapel,built in 1857, served the Confederacy as Breckenridge Military Hospital from1863 to 1865. Classes were reinstated in 1864 to educate disabled Confederatesoldiers and have since continued uninterrupted.

In 1887, Howard College moved to Birmingham and later became SamfordUniversity. The remaining faculty and students under President J.T. Murfeereorganized as “Marion Military Institute,” an independent, non-profit militaryschool. The name honors General Francis Marion, the Revolutionary War “SwampFox.”

The ROTC program was first offered at MMI in 1916 when the institute wasdesignated as an “Honor Military School with Distinction” by the Department ofDefense. The U.S. Army Early Commissioning Program was established at MMI in1968. In 1971, MMI enrolled women as full-time students for the first timeduring the regular school year and, since then, has remained fullycoeducational.

Early Commissioning Program

The Early Commissioning Program (ECP) allows qualified candidates theopportunity to obtain a commission in the Reserve Forces in just two years.Upon earning an associate’s degree at the end of the sophomore year at MMI,graduates are commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and may enter the U.S. ArmyReserve or National Guard unit of their choice while completing theirundergraduate studies at the institution of their choice. Lieutenants accruetime in grade and time in service credits while completing their degree, sothey are two full years ahead of their contemporaries. Upon obtaining abachelor’s degree, those Second Lieutenants who apply for and are selected foractive duty begin their service in the active Army, while others may continuetheir service in the Army Reserve or National Guard.

In 2003, MMI was ranked as the top Military Junior College in the nation inall areas of the National Advanced Leadership Camp evaluation performance(rifle marksmanship, land navigation, and physical fitness).

MMI is projected to commission approximately 70 2nd Lieutenants for the 2006school year. This will make MMI one of the top SROTC programs in thenation for total number of officers produced in 2006.

A Brief History of the U.S. Army’s Early Commissioning Program(ECP)

The roots of the Early Commissioning Program date back to 1966.  Priorto that year, the granting of an ROTC commission implied the concurrent awardof a baccalaureate degree.  To meet the manpower requirements of theVietnam War, Congress approved a measure that allowed cadets atMilitary Junior Colleges who had completed all requirements ofthe ROTC Advanced Course to be commissioned as second lieutenants and called toactive duty.

After the war, widespread anti-military sentiment left over from Vietnam andthe elimination of the draft led to officer recruiting problems, especially inthe reserve components.  To address these difficulties, the ECP wasrevised in 1978.  Cadets from four-year schools who had successfullycompleted Advanced Camp and Military Science IV but who had not yet earnedtheir four-year degree could also be commissioned, provided they were slottedagainst a valid lieutenant vacancy. 

Throughout the 1980’s, the Early Commissioning Program played a big role inofficer production.  In some years, ECP officers constituted over 60percent of all ROTC second lieutenants.  The program was a major financialincentive for students who could receive their commissions early and serve asofficers while still attending college.  In 1984, the California Guardreceived 95 percent (74 of 78) of its ROTC lieutenants from the ECPprogram.  The Army Reserve had a similar experience.
In 1991, the downsizing of the Army reduced officer production requirements,leading to the reduction of the Early Commission Program to the sixMilitary Junior Colleges affiliated with the Army ROTCprogram.
Note: There are only 5 Military Junior Colleges today.