History of ROTC at GWU
Gardner-Webb University has had an ROTC presence that reaches back into the 1990s, when the students at the university could enroll in Army ROTC at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC.
The current program, however, came into existence with the Partnership Agreement signed by the U.S. Army, UNC Charlotte and Gardner-Webb University in July 2004. The Army ROTC cadre at UNC Charlotte’s “49er Battalion” saw great potential for ROTC at Gardner-Webb and worked to commit the appropriate resources to ensure its firm establishment and future growth. In the Spring of 2005, GWU Army ROTC became “C Company, 49er Battalion” and Captain William Nicholson became the first Assistant Professor of Military Science specifically assigned to Gardner-Webb University. CPT Nicholson served from 2005 to August 2006, and during his tenure he established the university’s Military Science minor, and greatly improved the department’s facilities, moving from a single office in Bost Gym to a 5-room building on 148 Memorial Drive.
From 2006 to 2010, the company of Cadets doubled in size, from an average of 10 Cadets to an average of 20, under the direction of MAJ Luti. The GWU Army ROTC cadre also grew by one as the University authorized Army ROTC with a (part-time) department secretary. During this time, GWU Army ROTC commissioned its very first officer, Lieutenant Terri Lopez ‘07 (now a decorated combat veteran), added two additional scholarship options to the program, and instituted Military Fitness as a Physical Education course. In each successive year, the program has commissioned 2 more high-quality lieutenants for the Army.
To this day Gardner-Webb University is a proud partner in the 49er Battalion, hosted at UNC Charlotte.
The 49er Battalion’s history can be traced to its creation at Davidson College, where it was known then as the “Carolina Foothills” ROTC Battalion. In 1917, the year the United States entered World War I, Captain J. W. Lea, a temporary military instructor from The Citadel, was assigned to Davidson College with the mission of organizing, drilling, and training infantry tactics to a group of student volunteers. This organization took a more formal structure in October 1918 when the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) was officially inaugurated.
With the first world conflict coming to a close, the Davidson College Board of Trustees decided to permanently integrate Military Science into the institution’s curriculum with the establishment of a Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program. On 1 April 1919 LTC A.H. Mueller, the battalion’s first professor of military science, officially opened the program, offering classes on military tactics to Davidson students.
In the 1920s the ROTC program grew rapidly, reaching more than four hundred cadets in the Basic Course alone. A strong showing of student support, combined with a series of national accolades, convinced the Board of Trustees to keep ROTC in the curriculum, despite growing sentiment among the faculty and alumni that the military principles taught in ROTC conflicted with the Christian ideals espoused by the school. In 1968 the Board of trustees made the mandatory Basic Course a voluntary elective-a change which cut the military science enrollment to a fraction of its previous size.
In 1996, The “Carolina Foothills” Battalion relocated to its current location at UNC Charlotte in order to more effectively reach the growing consortium collegiate market in the Piedmont region. In 2002, the “Carolina Foothills” ROTC Battalion formally changed its name to the “49er Battalion”. The name change was one of several leadership initiatives taken to firmly establish the battalion’s new home and enhance the working relationship with the university. The UNC Charlotte “49er Battalion” is host to satellite programs in 12 colleges and universities in the Piedmont. The 49er Battalion consists of the following schools: UNC Charlotte, Belmont Abbey College, Davidson College, Johnson & Wales University, Winthrop University, Gardner-Webb University, Queens University, Johnson C. Smith University, Wingate University, Pfeiffer University, Lenoir Rhyne, and Central Piedmont Community College.