Army officer training at the University of Idaho began in March 1894, when 2nd Lieutenant E.R. Chrisman reported to the University to become the first Professor of Military Science and Tactics. In June 1916, the University President requested that an ROTC unit be established under the provisions of the National Defense Act which had been passed two weeks before. On 8 January 1917, the War Department authorized the establishment of a two-year compulsory course of Senior Division ROTC at the University of Idaho. Since the close of World War II, the University has expanded officer education programs to also include Naval and Air Force ROTC programs.
E.R. Chrisman was to have a long association with Army officer education at the U of I. He served as a Professor of Military Science from 1894 to 1898, then formed and led a company from the Idaho campus in the Spanish-American War. He served again as Professor of Military Science from 1902 to 1905. Chrisman returned as a Brigadier General to serve as Professor of Military Science from 1919 until 1932, when he retired from active military service. Chrisman Hall, a hall in the Wallace Complex on campus, is named in his honor.
Army ROTC at the University of Idaho has made a significant contribution to the nation by furnishing a large number of dedicated officers who served their country with distinction during World War II, the Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and currently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the officers commissioned at the U of I chose the military service for their careers. This program continues to train many outstanding young men and women to serve their country as officers in the United States Army.