The university was founded in 1819 in Norwich, Vermont by CaptainAlden Partridge, military educator and former superintendent of West Point. 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. Partridge, in founding the 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: an aristocratic and careerist officer class.
He believed that a well-trained militia was an urgent necessity and developed the American system around that idea. His academy inspired a number of military colleges throughout the nation, including The Citadel. It also was a model for the land grant colleges created through the Morrill Act of 1862. Today, Norwich offers substantial online distance graduate programs. It is similar in many regards to The Citadel in mission, online offerings, student body composition, and size.
All entering freshmen aspiring to the Corps of Cadets are called "Rooks", and their first year at Norwich is called "Rookdom". The institution of "Rookdom" consists of two three-month processes that mold civilians into Norwich Cadets: Rook Basic Training and Basic Leadership Training. Culmination of Rook Basic Training marks the halfway point toward Recognition and occurs before Thanksgiving break, after which Rooks are awarded privileges. Recognition for acceptance into the Corps of Cadets typically occurs around the eighteenth week.
Partridge's educational beliefs were considered radical at the time. His views conflicted with Army officials in the federal government while he was the superintendent of West Point. When he established his own academy, 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. They also required students to practice with authentic weapons to support the college’s program of well-rounded military education.
In 1825 the academy moved to Middletown, Connecticut, to provide better naval training to the school's growing Corps of Cadets. Beginning in 1826, the academy offered the first program of courses in civil engineering in the US.
In 1829, the state of Connecticut declined to grant Captain Partridge a charter, and he moved the school back to Norwich. (The Middletown campus was adapted in as Wesleyan College). In 1834, Vermont granted a charter to Partridge and recognized his institution as Norwich University.
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 state militias throughout the Northeast. The entire class of 1862 enlisted in the military upon its graduation.
Norwich turned out hundreds of officers and soldiers who served with the federal armies in the American 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 an estimated fifty-six fought for the Confederacy. Because of the university's high rate of participation in the war, the number of students dwindled: only seven were in the class of 1864.
The Confederate raid on St. Albans, Vermont precipitated fear that Newport, Vermont was an imminent target. The Corps of Cadets quickly boarded an express train for Newport the same day, October 19, 1864, and were greeted with great relief by residents when they arrived.
After a catastrophic fire in 1866, which devastated the Old South Barracks and the entire Military Academy, the town of Northfield welcomed the struggling school. The Civil War, the fire, and uncertainty whether the university would continue adversely affected continuing students and new admissions. The school opened in fall 1866 with only 19 students. During the 1870s and 1880s the institution struggled financially, affected by national economic crises. It was renamed as Lewis College in 1880. In 1881, the student body consisted of only a dozen men.
By 1884, the Vermont Legislature changed the name of the school back to Norwich. In the 1890s, the United States Army and Norwich expanded their collaboration. Career officer Jesse McI. Carter received a two-year appointment as an instructor and Commandant of Cadets. In 1898 the university was designated by the legislature as the Military College of the State of Vermont.
War and expansion: 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'sMexican Expedition on the southern border. This greatly disrupted the academic year. In 1916, after the outbreak of war in Europe, the War Department designated Norwich as the first site for a Senior ROTC cavalry unit. Also that year, Harold "Doc" Martin (NU 1920), matriculate: the first African American to attend the university.
Classes graduated early for both the First and Second World Wars. Many Norwich-made officers participated, serving in all theaters of both conflicts. Professional education offered at Norwich changed and adapted with the advance of technology. Military flight training began in 1939. From 1946 to 1947, horse cavalry was completely phased out in favor of armored cavalry.
Graduates returning from European and Pacific fields of battle after World War II found a university very different from the one they had left. 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, two years before the federal service academies did. The 1972 merger and 1993 integration with Vermont College added two groups to "the Hill," women and civilian students.
In the nineteenth century, hazing of undergraduates by upperclassmen 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 was prohibited by university rules and illegal by state law. But, there were several reported instances of hazing in 1990, 1995, and 2022. 
Prior to the 2009–2010 school year, companies consisted of one upperclassmen platoon and one freshmen platoon, with each platoon consisting of three squads. The companies in the original system were Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Kilo, Lima, Mike, Band, Drill Team, Military Police, and Artillery. The companies Alpha through Mike were known as "line companies", and were part of Battalions 1, 2, 3 and 4. Band, Drill Team, Military Police and Artillery were placed in Provisional Battalion.
Under this traditional system a cadet could serve in one company his entire time at the school, building strong camaraderie and connections. While this had the benefit of creating unique cultures and traditions in each company, and strengthened the bond each cadet had with his/her fellow "Rook Buddies" and the Corps and school at large, sometimes long-standing company traditions led to fraternity-like hazing and eventually challenged the authority of the Corps chain of command.
In 2009, the Provisional Artillery Company was deactivated.
Norwich University campus in Northfield
In 1910 Ainsworth Hall was constructed for the United States Weather Bureau as its central Vermont station. 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 to Dewey Hall. When construction began on Webb Hall that year to the immediate west of Ainsworth Hall, the infirmary moved into the now empty structure. As the university expanded in the 1960s and 1970s, the Hall was adapted for use by the Division of Social Sciences. The building is named for Mrs. Laura Ainsworth, widow of Captain James E. Ainsworth (NU 1853). In 1915 he had worked to bring an infirmary to campus.
Chaplin Hall, originally Carnegie Hall, was built in 1907. The School of Architecture + Art is located there. 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.
This building, on the site of the first building in Northfield Center, contains the offices and classrooms of the Communications Department. The offices for the school newspaper The Guidon and the studios for 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.
Named for Admiral of the NavyGeorge 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.
Hollis House is today the location of a number of classrooms and offices of the College of Liberal Arts. 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 gave what was then the largest donation in the university's history: $7 million.
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, Mathematics and Sports Medicine. An addition of Nursing was completed in 2011. The complex (known as the "U" building) is composed of six sections: Juckett, Partridge and Tompkins Halls, the Science Building, Bartolleto Hall 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 Information Technology Services office.
Kreitzberg Library is named in recognition of Barbara and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Fred Kreitzberg (NU 1957). The library has a catalog of more than 240,000 books, about 45,000 electronic journals, and a collection of federal government publications. The Norwich University Archives and Special Collections has 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 (5,400 m2) library was designed by Perry Dean Rogers Architects. It was completed in 1993 at a cost of $8.1 million. In 2015, a renovation project brought the library into the twenty-first century with enhancements including new workstations, group-study and collaborative-learning areas, new technology-enabled classrooms, and a café. Additional improvements include two new conference rooms, a 77 percent increase in the number of seats, and an increase in data speeds.
Webb Hall was completed in 1960 and originally housed the English, Modern Languages, Social Sciences, Business Administration and the Psychology and Education departments. Dole Auditorium, which seated over four hundred people, was located in Webb Hall. The building is named after J. Watson Webb, a Norwich trustee. The auditorium honored 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. In 2017, Webb Hall underwent a major renovation that included the dismantling of Dole Auditorium. Following the commencement of the spring semester in 2019, Norwich University completed renovations on Webb Hall, which was briefly renamed North Hall. In 2020, North Hall became Schneider Hall, in honor of retiring Norwich University President Richard W. Schneider.
Hawkins Hall – Named for General Rush Hawkins, a colonel in the Civil War, and philanthropist. Built in 1940 and renovated in 1994 and again in 2008
Gerard Hall – Named after industrialist and philanthropist Jacques A. Gerard, who became a trustee in 1959. Built in 1962, and renovated in 2010
Crawford Hall – Named after David C. Crawford (1952) and after whom the School of Engineering is also named, it is the first residence hall to not be on the Upper Parade Ground and was typically reserved for traditional students. As of 2012, it housed both upperclassmen in the Corps of Cadets and civilians. Since the opening of South Hall, it solely houses cadets. Built in 1988.
South Hall – It is the second dorm to be located off of the Upper Parade Ground and is reserved for traditional students. Built in 2009, it opened for the 2009–10 school year.
Dalrymple Hall – The newest residence hall, completed in 2014 at a cost of $23.2 million. Tuition will rise 3% as a result of this new building.
Andrews Hall, built in 1980, houses the Department of Athletics. In addition, it has basketball and racquetball courts and the equipment and athletic 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 is home to the men’s and women’s varsity ice hockey teams, as well as the school’s club team.
The armory, built in 1928, is named to honor a notable 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 6 lane facility that is open to all university members.
Dedicated in 1921, Sabine Field was originally a venue for football, baseball, track, and outdoor ice hockey. Over time, as hockey moved indoors and baseball found its own home at Garrity Field, Sabine continued to serve the university football and cross country teams. Then in 2013, a renovation transformed Sabine Field into a multi-sport, multi-activity, lit stadium that can be used in most weather conditions. The improvements included synthetic turf field that meets NCAA regulations for football, soccer, and lacrosse, a 400-meter resilient urethane running track with 42-inch lanes, energy-efficient stadium lights, a new sound system, bleachers, and press box, and other upgrades. On October 4, 2013, Sabine Field was officially renamed to Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium. Sabine Field was dedicated in 1921 in honor of the memory of 1868 graduate Dr. George K. Sabine’s son, George K. Sabine Jr., who died shortly after returning from overseas.
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.
The Harmon Memorial
The Harmon Memorial is a tribute to Major GeneralErnest 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 Corps upperclassmen and civilians) 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 was renovated in 2007. The addition onto Harmon Hall is named the Wise Campus Center.
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 faculty member, proponent of the Transatlantic telegraph cable and militia Brigadier General during the American 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 also housed in Jackman Hall.
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 newer 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.
Students and organization
Norwich university has more than 4,000 students, including over 2,500 traditional undergraduate students and more than 1,500 in the university’s online programs, which includes nearly 800 graduate students and over 700 in undergraduate degree-completion programs. As of 2018, Norwich University has 162 full-time faculty and more than 200 part-time faculty. In attendance in 2018 are 81 international students and scholars and exchange students, representing 30 countries.
Cadet officers and non-commissioned officers command the Corps of Cadets. As leaders, they are responsible for the day-to-day administration, operation, training and discipline of the Corps. Norwich is one of six senior military colleges in the country recognized by Title 10 of the U.S. Code, Section 2111a(f). This entitles eligible ROTC graduates to active duty service if they so choose. Until 2018, the Corps was structured as a regiment commanded by a cadet colonel (C/COL) with five battalions each commanded by a cadet lieutenant colonel (C/LTC) and a Headquarterscompany commanded by a cadet major. 1st, 2nd, and provisional battalions were composed of companies of upperclassmen commanded by a cadet captain with two or three platoons per company. 3rd and 4th Battalion were freshman training battalions and were composed of three companies of three platoons each. This structure was put in place for the 2009–2010 school year, replacing the more traditional "Original Company" system.
In fall of 2018, the Corps of Cadets was reorganized as a regiment, still commanded by a cadet colonel, having only three battalions (1st, 2nd, and Provisional), commanded each by a C/LTC (Headquarters Company now falls under the command of Provisional Battalion). In addition to having two upperclassmen companies (of three platoons each), both line battalions also contain freshman training companies (consisting of three platoons each). Provisional Battalion now houses Headquarters Company and one freshman training company (containing three platoons) which feeds into its original three specialty units (Band Company, Drill Company, and the Cavalry Troop).
This change creates a “sister company” partnership with upper-class companies and the Rook training companies (CTC 1 partnered with A Co etc.). This “sister company” construct creates a partnership between a Rook Training Company and an upper-class company. For instance, if a Rook is in CTC 1 his first year, he will matriculate to A Co. his second and subsequent years. A Co.supports CTC 1 in training and has a vested interest in CTC 1’s success because the Rooks in that Company will be members of A Co. the following year. Freshmen in CTC 5 who do not complete the specialty unit training required to be in Band Co, Drill Co, or the Cavalry troop will be assigned to a unit in a line battalion at the start of their second year in the corps.
Norwich University Corps of Cadets rank insignia follows West Point with the use of chevrons to show all cadet ranks in lieu of chevrons, disks, or lozenges. Any recognized cadet defaults to the rank of private if they hold no job responsibilities in the Corps of Cadets.
The college has several special units that are supervised by federal ROTC units. The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (AROTC) detachment contains the Norwich Artillery Battery, the Norwich Ranger Company, the Ranger Challenge team, and the Mountain Cold Weather Company. The NROTC detachment sponsors a chapter of the Semper Fidelis Society and Golden Anchor Society.[clarification needed]
Norwich has 29 majors across six academic divisions with the most popular major being criminal justice.
The College of Graduate and Continuing Studies oversees the university's online graduate programs as well as six online bachelor's degree completion programs. The majority of the graduate programs are conducted on a distance learning platform, including a combined 5-year Master of Architecture program and a National Security Agency-sponsored Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.
Norwich offers 20 varsity sports, including baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's ice hockey, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's rugby, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's swimming and diving, softball, men's tennis, wrestling, and women's volleyball. Golf was reinstated as a varsity sport for fall 2022. The Cadets compete at the NCAA Division III level and are affiliated in four conferences, mainly the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) and the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The football team joined the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference in 2017. The college also has a number of student clubs for sports such as paintball, fencing, horseback riding etc.
The Cadets first fielded a football team in 1893. Among early notable moments is a 28–6 loss to Boston College at Fenway Park in 1914, the first college football game ever played at that venue. Overall, the program has appeared in seven ECAC bowl games (1984, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014) and two NCAA tournaments (2011, 2015). Norwich has produced 16 All-Americans, and has won or shared four Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) Championships (2009, 2011, 2013–shared with Gallaudet University, 2015). Six former Cadets have reached an NFL camp.
Norwich was a member of the ECFC from 2009 to 2016, and departed the league with a 46–10 record in conference games. In 2017, Norwich joined the NEWMAC as an affiliate member for football.
The Cadets' home field is Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium. The field underwent a massive renovation for the 2013 season, transitioning from grass to turf, and adding lights for night contests. Campus folklore includes a tale of a ghost of an old cavalry cadet who guards the gate to the stadium.
Norwich's most prominent football rivals include Middlebury College, Castleton University, and the United States Coast Guard Academy. Norwich also plays long-time opponent St. Lawrence University for an annual trophy. The series with Middlebury concluded after the 1991 season, after 99 contests, with the NESCAC's decision to eliminate non-conference football competition. Castleton founded their football program in 2009, and the Norwich game quickly became an intense rivalry. The Norwich/Coast Guard series (the Little Army/Navy Game) had been dormant after the 2005 game, but resumed again in 2017.
All these rivalry games involve a traveling trophy awarded to the winner:
Norwich vs. Middlebury: The Wadsworth Trophy
Norwich vs. Coast Guard: The Mug
Norwich vs. Castleton: The Maple Sap Bucket
Norwich vs. St. Lawrence: The Hoffman Cup
Women's rugby has existed at Norwich since 1985 and gained a varsity status in 2008. They won the inaugural USA Rugby Collegiate Division II National Championship in the spring of 2012 and a USA Rugby Collegiate Division 1 National Sevens Title in the fall of 2011.
Men's ice hockey began play in 1909 and has become a national powerhouse. The program has won regular season conference championships in 20 of the last 22 seasons. The Cadets have won four NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship titles (2000, 2003, 2010, and 2017). The program has reached the NCAA Division III Frozen Four 13 times. Dozens of players have gone on to professional careers, and three alumni have reached the NHL (Frank Simonetti, Keith Aucoin, Kurtis McLean).
In 2007–08 Norwich women's ice hockey was elevated to varsity status. A year later, the Cadets won their first-ever ECAC East conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey tournament. They have won 8 conference championships, and have reached 7 final fours. Norwich won the program's first NCAA Division III title in 2011, and won again in 2018.
Major General Grenville M. Dodge (1851) – Commander, Department of the Missouri; Chief Engineer of Union Pacific during construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Dodge City, Kansas is named in his honor.
Brigadier General Robert F. McDermott (attended 1937–1939) – Flew 61 combat missions during World War II in the European Theatre. In 1956 he was appointed Dean of Faculty to the Air Force Academy. In 1959 President Eisenhower appointed him the first Permanent Dean of Faculty and promoted him to Brigadier General.
Major General Horatio G. Wright (attended 1834–1836) – Commander of the VI Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War; Chief of Engineers for the Army; Chief Engineer for the completion of the Washington Monument.
Edward Dean Adams - 1864 - Developed the systems to produce electric power at Niagara Falls. He organized and directed the Cataract Construction Company in 1890, the first to utilize the water power of Niagara Falls for the production of industrial electric power, one of the great engineering feats of the 19th century,
^Sullivan Museum and History Center (February 18, 2019). "#7 Albert Martin at the Alamo". 200+20 Things About Norwich. Northfield, VT: Norwich University. Archived from the original on October 28, 2019. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
^Reel, Jerome V. (2009). "The Family of Thomas Green Clemson". In Bennett, Alma (ed.). Thomas Green Clemson. Clemson, SC: Clemson University Digital Press. Archived from the original on November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
^Sullivan Museum and History Center (February 18, 2019). "#191 200 Years, 23 Presidents". 200+20 Things About Norwich. Northfield, VT: Norwich University. Archived from the original on October 28, 2019. Retrieved October 28, 2019.