Middle Tennessee State University
Cadre and cadets plant tree in memory of two Blue Raider alumni killed in the line of duty.

Fallen Alumni Memorial

Cadre and cadets plant tree in memory of two Blue Raider alumni killed in the line of duty.


The tradition of training college students for military leadership began in 1819 when Captain Alden Partridge, a former Superintendent at West Point, founded what is now Norwich University. His program marked the first time military instruction was offered on a civilian college campus. In 1862, the Land Grant Act (Morrill Act) provided federal land and funding for state colleges and universities as long as they offered an agriculture program and military training. During World War II more than 100,000 ROTC graduates served as commissioned officers in the Army. Today over 50,000 ROTC graduates are serving on active duty in all grades from Lieutenant through General. The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, was an ROTC graduate.

The ROTC program was established as the Military Science Department of Middle Tennessee State University in April 1950. The Department was originally located in the basement of the Alumni Memorial Gymnasium where indoor range facilities, classrooms, storage and office space were provided. In 1954, the university built and named the current facility - Forrest Hall. The initial Cadet Corps consisted of 93 Cadets and 11 Cadet officers. At that time the ROTC program was voluntary for all male students. In the fall of 1955, the first two years of the Military Science program became compulsory for all physically qualified male freshman and sophomores. The mandatory program continued through the 1970-71 school year and was then gradually phased out. Beginning with the 1972-73 school year, the program was once again completely voluntary. The Cadet Battalion grew from its original 104 Cadets in 1950 to a peak enrollment or 1449 Cadets at the beginning of the 1970-71 school year. Our program has commissioned over 1,360 Cadets. Also, there are 15 current or retired General Officers that were commissioned through this program.

In 1977, MTSU earned top honors among 283 colleges and universities in the United States that offer ROTC and was awarded the coveted Warrior of the Pacific Trophy. In 1979, the program finished second. In 2001, the program was named the best ROTC Battalion and in 2006, it was named the best medium sized Battalion. Historically, the program has been ranked at least in the top 15 percent of all ROTC programs nationwide. Key to the success is that Cadets lead the program – they plan and coordinate for training events and always lead by example.

The Cadet battalion is led by senior (MS IV) Cadet officers. The PMS and cadre members of the Military Science Department are provided by the U.S. Army ROTC Cadet Command, Fort Knox, KY.

The name "Blue Raiders" comes from the university’s nickname. Its origin goes back to a 1934 newspaper contest. An MTSU football player, Charles Sarver, won 5 dollars fromThe (Murfreesboro) Daily News Journalwith his winning entry "Blue Raiders", which he later admitted borrowing from Colgate University whose teams were known as "Red Raiders" at the time.