University of the American Expeditionary Forces in France - American Education
An institution of higher education established by General John J. Pershing in Beaune, France, in March 1919, for American servicemen. The commander-in-chief of American forces during World War I, Pershing found himself heading a large, idle army after the armistice and cessation of fighting on November 11, 1918. He quickly moved to set up schools on each post to provide elementary and secondary education for soldiers who lacked such schooling. He also set up educational centers at the corps and division level to provide more advanced education and technical education. The University of the AEF offered still more advanced training than these schools, offering about 200 courses taught by officers and enlisted men with appropriate training and experience. About 6,000 students enrolled in the college, which also offered teacher-training courses and the opportunity to serve as student teachers in post schools. The Pershing educational system was unique in that it was the first effort to make education and training an integral part of military life. In 1920 and 1921, however, Congress authorized sharp cutbacks in troop strength and military spending. The entire system, including the university, was abandoned, leaving the American armed forces totally unprepared for the educational effort they were forced to mount two decades later at the outbreak of World War II.
(See also UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES INSTITUTE.)