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 Alabama Baptist Convention and was later known as “Howard College.”   Then located about four blocks north of the current campus, Howard had a very modest beginning in a single, small building, the same site where Judson College hadits beginning. A fire in 1844 completely destroyed the school building and prompted the movement of academic classes to Siloam Baptist Church while Marion citizens allowed the faculty and students to live in their homes. Howard returned to its original site in 1846 after the completion of a new school building. After a second fire in 1854, Howard students were again housed within the 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 the current campus.

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

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

The ROTC program was first offered at MMI in 1916 when the institute was designated as an “Honor Military School with Distinction” by the Department ofDefense. The U.S. Army Early Commissioning Program was established at MMI in 1968. In 1971, MMI enrolled women as full-time students for the first time during the regular school year and, since then, has remained fully coeducational.

Early Commissioning Program

The Early Commissioning Program (ECP) allows qualified candidates the opportunity 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. Army Reserve or National Guard unit of their choice while completing their under graduate studies at the institution of their choice. Lieutenants accrue time in grade and time in service credits while completing their degree, so they are two full years ahead of their contemporaries. Upon obtaining a bachelor’s degree, those Second Lieutenants who apply for and are selected for active duty begin their service in the active Army, while others may continue their 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 2006 school 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.  Prior to that year, the granting of an ROTC commission implied the concurrent award of a baccalaureate degree.  To meet the manpower requirements of the Vietnam War,  Congress approved a measure that allowed cadets at Military Junior Colleges who had completed all requirements of the ROTC Advanced Course to be commissioned as second lieutenants and called to active duty.

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

Throughout the 1980’s, the Early Commissioning Program played a big role in officer production.  In some years, ECP officers constituted over 60 percent of all ROTC second lieutenants.  The program was a major financial incentive for students who could receive their commissions early and serve as officers while still attending college.  In 1984, the California Guard received 95 percent (74 of 78) of its ROTC lieutenants from the ECP program.  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 six Military Junior Colleges affiliated with the Army ROTC program.
Note: There are only 5 Military Junior Colleges today.