United States Navy announces new ROTC Unit at Yale, returning Naval ROTC to Connecticut

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and University President Richard C. Levin signed an agreement today to establish an ROTC unit at Yale, which will be the Navy’s only ROTC unit in Connecticut. The Yale unit’s first class of ROTC midshipmen will enter in the fall of 2012. In addition to Yale College students, the Yale unit will enroll students from other public and private universities in the state that participate under cross-town arrangements to take the ROTC program at Yale.

“The renewal of a formal relationship with Yale will serve to bring dozens of new and talented officers who will carry on Yale’s tradition of service into the Navy and Marine Corps each year,” Mabus said. “The presence of NROTC will enrich and strengthen both the military and the educational experience of all students.”

“The new Navy ROTC unit at Yale continues the University’s proud tradition of educating students who serve our country’s armed forces,” Levin said. “From Lexington to Afghanistan, our students and graduates have contributed to the nation’s defense, and the return of NROTC will make it easier for the most talented young men and women who aspire to leadership in our military to gain a Yale education.” (Click here to read President Levin’s statement.)

Yale will host the unit as part of a consortium with the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, which also hosts a unit, allowing the Navy to achieve efficiencies in operations by some sharing of personnel and support resources. The establishment of the Yale unit will make Naval ROTC much more attractive for Connecticut students, many of whom would otherwise travel substantial distances to the nearest Naval ROTC program. This agreement stands out because Yale will host an ROTC unit on its campus for classes and training, as opposed to making new arrangements with partner ROTC schools.

In recent years, Yale students have been able to take Army and Air Force ROTC courses on other campuses. Last Sunday, two Yale College seniors were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force, having successfully completed the ROTC program at the University of Connecticut. Yale hopes to enhance its affiliation with Air Force ROTC even as it welcomes Naval ROTC back to its campus.

Votes by the Yale College faculty on May 5 paved the way for the re-establishment of ROTC on its campus, and the Yale Corporation, the University’s governing board, voted its approval on May 24. A survey conducted by the Yale College Council last fall found that an overwhelming majority of Yale College students support having ROTC on the Yale campus.


Yale’s connections to the military have been long-standing. Yale President Ezra Stiles led more than half of the student body to take on the overwhelming Redcoat troops in 1779 when the largest flotilla ever to enter Long Island Sound attacked New Haven. Twenty-five Yale graduates served as Generals for the Union Army during the Civil War, and almost 9,500 Yale graduates and students served in World War I. During World War II, the campus was largely given over to the military, and over 20,000 soldiers, sailors and marines were trained on campus at Yale. In addition to basic training, Yale hosted the Army Special Training Group, the Navy’s V-12 program, the Army Air Forces Technical Training School, and a Military Intelligence School.

Yale was a pioneer in ROTC. Soon after the enactment of the National Defense Act of 1916, which authorized ROTC units at universities, Yale immediately joined and its unit was over-subscribed by Yale College students. In 1916, a group of Yale undergraduates formed the Yale Unit, which became the first group of reserve pilots in the Navy. Most of them served in WWI, including the Navy’s first Ace.


Yale University also recently renewed its commitment to the Yellow Ribbon scholarship program for veterans who have seen active duty since September 11, 2001.

Accompanying Mabus at the signing was Assistant Secretary Juan Garcia. Yale students, faculty, staff and alumni who are veterans also attended.

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Media Contact

Tom Conroy: tom.conroy@yale.edu, 203-432-1345