The Legacy of Norwich

A tradition of innovation

There are more than 3,500 colleges in the USA from which to choose. How is Norwich University different from them, and does it matter? The answer depends on what you want from your college experience.

An organization’s legacy is defined by what the organization contributes to society over its lifetime.

Frankly, there are only a few schools that have a legacy as long or as influential as Norwich’s. There were only a few schools in existence in 1819 when Alden Partridge started the institution. But Norwich’s legacy isn’t great just because of longevity—more important is what the organization has done in its lifetime.

Norwich has always been the innovator in American Education. Actually the American System of Education started at Norwich. Yes, the most advanced and successful education system in the world, the education students throughout the world seek, the education system that has literally transformed civilization into modern society, started at Norwich.

That’s a big accomplishment. But it’s certainly not the only one, as Norwich does not rest on its laurels. This institution has a mission, a job to do, and the people of Norwich take it seriously. We are here to serve this great nation and educate students who will become leaders in business, government, and the military in order to advance the causes of the Republic, ensure its continued freedom, and develop the economic, political, and social infrastructure of this new century.

More firsts: Sometimes Norwich does things that are unconventional or buck the status quo. In 1974, we admitted women to the Corps of Cadets. That does not sound like a big deal now, but in 1974, it was downright revolutionary. It has proved a difficult and unpopular move for other military colleges, but Norwich did it right—and it was the right thing to do.

Norwich is accustomed to being first, a tradition that continues today. Norwich was one of the first institutions—and certainly the smallest—to receive the National Security Agency’s designation as a Center of Excellence in Information Security Education. Why? Because that is what the nation desperately needed and will need for many years to come.

Norwich was the first private college in the nation to teach engineering. Why? Because that is what the nation needed in 1819. While other institutions of higher education concentrated on classical studies, Norwich was marching its students out into the field to study civil engineering and other practical sciences, as well as literature and modern languages. The young nation needed bridges, agricultural innovation, graduates who were savvy in commerce and about the world, and people who could lead militarily if needed. Norwich met all of those needs in a time when such a curriculum was considered experimental. But Norwich’s system of balanced and useful education soon became the norm—in fact, the pattern—for the great American System of Education.

In 1820 our collegiate military band was created, the first of its kind in the nation and the oldest to date. Norwich also has the distinction of being the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). In addition, Norwich was the one of the first schools in the nation to admit international students.

A university’s legacy is also measured by the impact of its graduates.

Norwich graduates helped build the nation, whether it was the chief engineer that connected the Pacific and Atlantic coasts with the railroad, fathers of industrial tycoons, leaders in famous battles, or developers of the nation’s banking system. Current graduates include the former CEO of NBC, the CEO of the nation’s most prominent accounting and consulting firm, a partner in one of the world’s premier brokerage and investment houses, the former Chief of Staff of the Army, the owner of one of the defense industry’s most important contracting companies, the general partner of one of the nation’s premiere engineering and construction companies, etc., etc. These were graduates who were balanced thinkers, good communicators, had hands-on experience in their fields while still in college, and who had faculty that cared for them and would never quit on them. Norwich’s graduates do great things because they are challenged at this university. Rigorous, hands-on academics complemented by a military lifestyle for cadets and challenging co-curricular activities for traditional students ensures that graduates can handle most of what comes their way in the real world.

Finally, legacy can be measured by the pride people have in their alma mater.

One of the first things people will tell you about Norwich is that it loves its alumni and its alumni love it. Few university alumni groups display the kind of camaraderie that Norwich alumni have, both with each other and with the institution. This pride, this bond, and this fraternity of graduates stand out on the landscape of higher education. When you become part of Norwich University, you join a distinguished, established family and part of a tradition of innovation, dedication and distinction.

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