In June 1941, thirty-three University of Portland students were called to active duty by the United States Marine Corps as the U.S. prepared for the possibility that it might be pulled into the ever-deepening hostilities of World War II, according to a chapter in Jim Covert’s University of Portland history, A Point of Pride. The U.S. Marine Corps had established their first college reserve unit in the nation on the University of Portland campus in September 1940. Before the semester concluded, word came from Marine headquarters in Washington, D.C., ordering the reservists to active duty at Quantico, Virginia. University president Rev. Charles Miltner, C.S.C. (pictured), was visibly upset because the campus reserve program had guaranteed that student reservists would not have their college education interrupted; he was convinced that parents would think the University had engineered their sons into a misrepresented program. Come June, the thirty-three students were called to active duty, but the controversy at the University of Portland may well have been an important factor in the decision of the Marine Corps to abandon its projected reserve programs at other campuses. Thereafter, the other branches of the armed services developed and expanded their campus reserve training programs, although there was no longer any assurance that student reservists would be allowed to remain in college until graduation.
For more history from this week, see the University of Portland Almanac at www.up.edu/almanac/.