Norwich University

Norwich University (NU) is a private university located in Northfield, Vermont. It is home to both a Corps of Cadets (NUCC) and a smaller traditional student population. The University was founded in 1819 at Norwich, Vermont, as the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy. It is the oldest private military college in the United States and recognized by the United States Department of Defense as the "Birthplace of ROTC" (Reserve Officers' Training Corps).


Partridge and his academy

The University was founded in 1819 at Norwich by military educator and former superintendent of West Point, Captain Alden B. Partridge. Captain Partridge believed in the "American System of Education," a traditional liberal arts curriculum with instruction in civil engineering and military science. After leaving West Point because of congressional disapproval of his system, he returned to his native state of Vermont to create the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy. Captain Partridge, in founding his Academy, rebelled against the reforms of Sylvanus Thayer to prevent the rise of what he saw as the greatest threat to the security of the young republic: a professional officer class. He believed that a well-trained militia was an urgent necessity and developed the American system around that idea. His academy became the inspiration for a number of military colleges throughout the nation, including both the Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel, and later the land grant colleges created through the Morrill Act of 1862.

Partridge's educational beliefs were considered radical at the time, and this lead to his conflicting views with the federal government while he was the superintendent of West Point. Upon creation of his own school, he immediately incorporated classes of agriculture and modern languages in addition to the sciences, liberal arts, and various military subjects. Field exercises, for which Partridge borrowed cannon and muskets from the federal and state governments, supplemented classroom instruction and added an element of realism to the college’s program of well-rounded military education.

Partridge founded six other military institutions during his quest to reform the fledgling United States military. They were the Virginia Literary, Scientific and Military Academy at Portsmouth, Virginia (1839-1846), Pennsylvania Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy at Bristol, Pennsylvania (1842-1845), Pennsylvania Military Institute at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1845-1848), Wilmington Literary, Scientific and Military Academy at Wilmington, Delaware (1846-1848), the Scientific and Military Collegiate Institute at Reading, Pennsylvania (1850-1854), Gymnasium and Military Institute at Pembroke, New Hampshire (1850-1853) and the National Scientific and Military Academy at Brandywine Springs, Delaware (1853).

Fire and hardship: Norwich in the 19th century

In 1825 the academy moved to Middletown, Connecticut to provide better naval training to the school's growing corps of cadets. However, in 1829, the state of Connecticut declined to grant Captain Partridge a charter and he moved the school back to Norwich. It wasn't until 1834 that Vermont granted a charter and recognized the institution as "Norwich University." The University, beginning in 1826, offered the first program of courses in civil engineering in the US. During the 1856 academic year, the first chapter of the Theta Chi Fraternity was founded by cadets Frederick Norton Freeman and Arthur Chase. With the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, Norwich cadets served as instructors of the state militias throughout the Northeast and the entire class of 1862 enlisted upon its graduation. Norwich turned out hundreds of officers and soldiers who served with the Federal armies in the Civil War, including four recipients of the Medal of Honor. One graduate led a corps, seven more headed divisions, 21 commanded brigades, 38 led regiments, and various alumni served in 131 different regimental organizations. In addition, these men were eyewitnesses to some of the war's most dramatic events, including the bloodiest day of the conflict at Antietam, the attack up Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg, and the repulse of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. Seven hundred and fifty Norwich men served in the Civil War, of whom sixty fought for the Confederacy. Because of the university's participation in the struggle, the number of students dwindled to 7 in the class of 1864 alone. After a catastrophic fire in 1866 which devastated the entire campus, the town of Northfield welcomed the struggling school. The Civil War, the fire, and the uncertainty regarding the continuation of the University seriously lowered the attendance, and the school opened in the fall of 1866 with only nineteen students. The 1870s and 1880s saw many financially turbulent times for the institution and the renaming of the school to Lewis College in 1880. In 1881 the student body was reduced to only a dozen men. Later, by 1884, the Vermont Legislature had the name of the school changed back to Norwich. In 1898 the University was designated as the Military College of the State of Vermont.

War and expansion: Norwich in the 20th century

As part of the Vermont National Guard, the school's Corps of Cadets was mobilized as a squadron of cavalry in the First Vermont Regiment to assist in General John J. Pershing's Mexican Expedition. This greatly disrupted the academic year and in 1916 the War Department designated Norwich as the first site for a Senior ROTC cavalry unit; also in 1916, the first African-American, Harold "Doc" Martin (NU 1920), matriculated. Classes graduated early for both the First and Second World Wars and many Norwich-made officers saw service in all theaters of both conflicts. Professional education offered at Norwich also changed and adapted with the advance of technology. Military flight training began in 1939 and from 1946 to 1947, horse cavalry was completely phased out in favor of armored cavalry.

Graduates returning from European and Pacific fields of battle found a university very different from the one they had left behind. From the late 1940s to the 1960s, Norwich was greatly expanded and added a number of new opportunities. In 1947, the Army Department created a new program uniquely suited to Vermont's harsh climate: a mountain and cold weather warfare unit. Air Force and Navy ROTC programs were established in 1972 and 1984 respectively. During the 1974 school year, the University admitted women into the Corps of Cadets. Although unpopular at the time, Norwich University began a social trend that would move the country closer in gender equality. The 1972 merger and 1993 integration with Vermont College added two groups to "the Hill," civilian students and women. (Norwich later sold its Vermont College campus and non-traditional degree programs to the Union Institute and University in 2001.)


In the nineteenth century, hazing of undergraduates by upper classmen was normal in all military schools and many non-military ones as well. Hazing diminished in the early 20th century. By the late 20th century, it became not only counter to University rules but illegal as well. Nevertheless, there have been several instances of hazing in 1990, 1995 and in 2008. The university paid $2.5 million as the result of suits for the first two incidents. The latter is under investigation.

The Bicentennial: Norwich in the 21st century

Norwich has a position as a center of learning for civil service with online graduate programs, the 5 year Master of Architecture program and since 2001 an National Security Agency-sponsored Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance.

NU 2019

The NU2019 plan was launched in 2005 with the school's bicentennial as a focus. Under the guidance of the Alumni Association, the Board of Trustees and the Office of the President, the University has budgeted millions of dollars to change and the campus.

Proposed additions include:

  • Traditional Student housing quad separate from the Corps housing on the Upper Parade Ground
  • Harmon Hall dining facility rebuilt into a Campus Service Center
  • A refurbishment of Webb and Ainsworth Halls and a new Humanities & Social Science quad
  • Improved transportation network and general campus beautification
  • Increasing enrollment by five-hundred undergraduate students


Academic buildings

Ainsworth Hall

In 1910 Ainsworth Hall was constructed for the United States Weather Bureau as their central Vermont station. Later returned to the University in 1948, it served as the Administrative Headquarters of the campus. By 1955, growth of the University forced the relocation of the Administration back up the hill to Dewey Hall. When also in 1955 construction began on Webb Hall to the immediate west of the building, the infirmary moved into the now empty structure. Due to expansion of the University in the 1960s and 1970s the building was converted into the home of the Division of Social Sciences. The building is named for Mrs. Laura Ainsworth, widow of Captain James E. Ainsworth (NU 1853), who in 1915 worked to bring an infirmary to campus.

Chaplin Hall

Chaplin Hall, originally Carnegie Hall, was built in 1907 and is the home of the Division of Architecture & Art. Paid for by Andrew Carnegie, the building served as the University's library until 1993 with the construction of Kreitzberg Library. When the library was renovated in 1952, from the contributions of trustee Henry P. Chaplin it was rededicated as the Henry Prescott Chaplin Memorial Library. Until 1941 and the addition of Partridge Hall to the growing campus, Chaplin Hall also provided the classrooms and offices for the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Communications Building

This building, on the site of the first building in Center Northfield, contains the offices and classrooms of the Communications Department. The offices for the Guidon and the studios for both the University's radio station WNUB-FM are also located in this building. The building was purchased by the University in 1973 and restored in 1988.

Dewey Hall

Named for Admiral of the Navy George Dewey (NU 1852-1854), and completed in 1902, Dewey Hall is one of the oldest buildings in the Northfield campus. It was originally two stories high with the lower floor occupied by offices of the University's administration, the library and museum. Office space for trustees and faculty, a chapel with a seating of five hundred and the United States Weather Bureau were located on the second floor. With the departure of the Weather Bureau in 1909 and the completion of the then new Carnegie Library in 1907 the Hall was primarily used by the Military Department. In October 1925 a fire gutted the building which led to its reconstruction as a three story structure. Dewey Hall currently houses the Division of Business & Management and a computer lab.

Hollis House

Hollis House is today the location of a number of classrooms and offices of the Division of Humanities. Built in 1852, the building was until 1909 the house of a number of prominent residents of Northfield. When sold that year to the University it became part of the US Weather Bureau's station collocated on campus. The building was later named for David B. "Dixie" Hollis (NU 1922) who upon his death in 1993 donated what was until that point the largest single in the University's history, a total of seven million dollars.

Engineering, Math and Science Complex The Engineering, Math and Science Complex houses the David Crawford School of Engineering as well as the departments of Geology, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mathematics. The complex is composed of five buildings: Juckett, Partridge and Tompkins Halls; the Science Building and the Cabot Annex. The complex was completed in 1997 and replaced a previous set of 1940s and 1950s-era facilities. The Engineering, Math and Science Complex also contains the University's Computer Services office and the majority of the campus' independent computer labs.

Kreitzberg Library

Kreitzberg Library is named in recognition of Barbara and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Fred Kreitzberg (NU 1957). The Library has a catalogue of more than 240,000 books, about 800 archived periodicals, and a collection of Federal government publications. The Norwich University Archives and Special Collections houses rare books and unique source materials relating to military history, the history of Vermont, and the history of the University. The 58,000 square foot library was designed by Perry, Dean, Rogers & Partners and was completed in 1993 at a cost of $8.1 million.

Webb Hall

Webb Hall was completed in 1960 and originally housed the English, Modern Languages, Social Sciences, Business Administration and the Psychology and Education departments. Currently, the Division of Humanities, Nursing Department and Education program are located in this building. Twenty one classrooms, three seminar rooms and a computer lab are available. Dole Auditorium, which can seat over four hundred people, is also located in Webb Hall. The building is named after J. Watson Webb, a Norwich trustee and world class polo player. Dole Auditorium honors Charles Dole (NU 1869), who served in his career at the University as an instructor in Mathematics and Latin, a professor of history and rhetoric, the commandant of cadets and acting president of the University from 1895 to 1896.

Residence halls and cadet barracks

  • Hawkins Hall — Named for General Hawkins, a colonel in the Civil War and later New York State Congressman. Built in 1940 and renovated in 1994
  • Dodge Hall — Named for Grenville M. Dodge (NU 1851), only all-traditional residence hall on the Upper Parade Ground. Originally named Cabot Hall, it was built in 1937 and renovated in 1998
  • Patterson Hall — Named for a 1909 graduate in Civil Engineering and a trustee. Built in 1958, it is the only residence hall that houses both traditional and Corps of Cadets students.
  • Goodyear Hall — Named for Major General A. Conger Goodyear, a trustee and founder of the Museum of Modern Art. Built in 1955 and renovated in 1999
  • Wilson Hall — Named for a Judge and Governor of Vermont, Stanley Calef Wilson.
  • Alumni Hall — First housing-only hall at the Northfield campus, named for the significant alumnus contributions that allowed for its construction. Built in 1905 and renovated in 2005
  • Ransom Hall — Named after Colonel Truman B. Ransom, the second president of the University who was killed leading the assault on Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War. Built in 1957
  • Gerard Hall — Named after industrialist and philanthropist Jacques A. Gerard who became a trustee in 1959. Built in 1962
  • Crawford Hall — Named after David C. Crawford (NU 1952) and whom the School of Engineering is also named, it is the only residence hall not on the Upper Parade Ground and is reserved for traditional students. Built in 1988

Athletic buildings

Andrews Hall

Andrews Hall, built in 1980, houses the Departments of the Health, Physical Education and Athletics. In addition, it has basketball and racquetball courts and the equipment and training rooms for the university's varsity and intramural teams. The Athletic Hall of Fame is also located in Andrews Hall. The facility honors trustee Paul R. Andrews (NU 1930).

Kreitzberg Arena

Kreitzberg Arena, also named in for the Kreitzberg family, is the home of Norwich Hockey. Construction on this multi-purpose arena was completed in the spring of 1998. The 59,000 square ft. arena has a 200 x 90 ice surface and seating for 1400, with a maximum capacity of 5,000 for special events. The arena also hosts the ECAC Hockey East Regional Finals.

Plumley Armory

The Armory, built in 1928, is named to honor a distinguished 1896 graduate of the University, Charles A. Plumley. Plumley served as the President of the University from 1930 to 1934 when he was elected to Congress as Vermont's sole representative from 1934 to 1951. The main floor of the building provides seating space for 4,000 in an area as large as three basketball courts. There is an elevated running track as well as locker rooms, training rooms, and Navy ROTC offices in the basement. Connected to the Armory is Goodyear Pool. Built in 1962, the Pool is a 25 x 14 yard 5 lane facility that is open to all University members.

Sabine Field

Dedicated in 1921, Sabine Field is home to the university football and track teams.

Shapiro Field House

Shapiro Field House, built in 1987 and named for trustee Jacob Shapiro (NU 1936), houses a multipurpose arena that has a 200-meter indoor running track, four tennis courts, and a climbing wall. It is also used for morning PT (Physical Training), athletic practices, Commencement, concerts and other university functions.

Other buildings

The Harmon Memorial The Harmon Memorial is a tribute to Major General Ernest Harmon, who attended Norwich University from 1912 to 1913 and was later president from 1950 to 1968. Recorded on the memorial, by year of death, are the names of alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Norwich University that have made a "significant contribution" to the University.

Harmon Hall & Wise Campus Center

Harmon Hall opened in 1955 and later enlarged in 1958. Since then, it has served as the focal point for student life and activities. The campus mess hall, bookstore, post office, and The Mill (a snack bar open to upperclassmen and civilian freshmen) are located on the lower two floors. The Foreign Student Office, Student Activities, Yearbook Office, Music Program offices, a game room, and a lounge were located on the top floor. This floor originally housed the departments of English, History, and Modern Languages until they were moved to Webb Hall in 1960. Harmon Hall renovated in 2007. The addition onto Harmon Hall is named the Wise Campus Center and houses new dining and food preparation facilities as well as a new book store, post office, Partridge's Pub and an outdoor skating rink.

Jackman Hall

Norwich University moved to Northfield from Norwich, Vermont in 1866 when the South Barracks at the older location were destroyed by fire. Old Jackman Hall was the first building to be constructed at the new central Vermont site. The building was erected in 1868, and named Jackman Hall in 1907 to honor Brigadier General Alonzo Jackman (NU 1836) a distinguished faculty member, creator of the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable system and commander of the Vermont Brigade during the Civil War. From its construction till 1905 the building served as housing for cadets. In the mid-1950s Jackman Hall was extensively remodeled and modernized, however, it became apparent that the almost century-old barracks were too costly to maintain. It was decided that rather than pay for near continual upkeep to build a new hall on the same site. As many newer barracks had been built since its original construction it was decided that the new Jackman Hall would serve as the primary administration building. Currently the Army and Air Force ROTC departments are housed in Jackman, as well.

White Chapel

Constructed by a gift from Eugene L. White (NU 1914), a trustee, the chapel was completed in 1941. Originally designed as a multi-purpose building, then White Hall has served as a mess hall with a dining room, lunch room, kitchen, a college store and a recreational room. White Hall was converted to the University's first single-purpose chapel after Harmon Hall was opened in 1955. There are two bronze plaques on the walls that honor the Norwich war dead. Weekly services include Catholic Mass on Wednesday and Sunday, Non-denominational service on Sunday, and Islamic Prayer on Friday.

Sullivan Museum and History Center

One of the newest buildings on the campus, the Sullivan Museum was opened January 22, 2007. The building is named after General Gordon R. Sullivan (ret.), Norwich class of 1959 and former U.S. Army Chief of Staff. The Sullivan Museum houses state of the art conservation, storage, and display facilities for the wide variety of Norwich University artifacts and memorabilia. Items currently displayed cover a wide spectrum of Norwich history, including uniforms worn by Alden Partridge and Alonzo Jackman to pieces from more recent history.


The Norwich University Cadets compete at the NCAA Division III level and are affiliated in one of four conferences, mainly the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. There are 11 varsity sports and one club sport for men at Norwich University. The Cadets participate in Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, and more. In recent years, Norwich men's teams have been regularly found in the national rankings, won conference titles, and won two national championships in ice hockey.

Two women's sports, lacrosse and volleyball, have recently been approved to receive varsity status and will compete as such in coming years. Women's varsity teams compete at the NCAA Division III level and are members of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. Some of the sports the women compete in are Basketball, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Swimming & Diving, and more.

The Norwich Men's Basketball team returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2006 after winning the GNAC post-season title. Head Coach Paul Booth garnered GNAC Coach of the Year honors for a second straight season, while point guard Geoff Hensley was named to the All-GNAC 1st Team and forward Rene Cheatham made the All-GNAC 2nd Team.

Norwich University's Krietzberg Arena also plays host to Elite Hockey Camp in the summer (as does Dartmouth College).

Students and organization

The University has approx. 2,000 undergraduate students, 112 full-time faculty (approx. 80% hold a doctorate), and a fluctuating number of adjunct professors. The student/faculty ratio is 14:1 and the male/female ratio is 10:1. The freshman retention rate is 80%. The student body comprises students from over 40 different states and 20 countries.

Norwich University has two very different on-campus resident programs: the Corps of Cadets and the traditional student body.


The Corps side is structured as a regiment commanded by a Cadet Colonel (C/COL) with four battalions each commanded by a Cadet Lieutenant Colonel (C/LTC). Normally, each battalion consists of three companies commanded by a Cadet Captain (C/CPT) which are made of two platoons (1st platoon is the upperclassmen and 2nd platoon the freshmen, or "Rooks").
1st Battalion 2nd Battalion 3rd Battalion Provisional Battalion
Alpha Delta Golf Regimental Band Company
Bravo Echo Hotel Drill Team
Charlie Foxtrot India Cavalry Troop
Kilo Norwich Independent Battery
Headquarters & Headquarters Company


The Resident Life Department oversees the civilian side. Floors in the Residence Halls are under the supervision of a Resident Advisor (RA). The Residence Halls are in turn supervised by Resident Coordinators (RC) who report to the Area Coordinator (AC) and the Director of Resident Life (DoRL). Norwich is unique in that students hold positions that at many other colleges and universities are reserved for professional staff.


The Norwich University School of Graduate Studies oversees the university's graduate programs. By majority, the graduate programs are conducted on a distance learning based platform. The university offerers accredited and highly recognized programs in a range of fields.

Notable alumni




Engineering & architecture

Other notable alumni


External links

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