When John J. Pershing arrived at the university, its cadet training program had dwindled to just 90 students. Within a year, it swelled to 350 students. Today, the Military Times ranks UNL 25th Best for Vets among four-year colleges and universities.

John J. Pershing, who commanded the American Expeditionary Forces to victory in Europe during World War I, had strong ties to the University of Nebraska.

In 1891, 2nd Lt. Pershing was assigned to Nebraska as a professor of military science and tactics. The next year Pershing organized a competition drill group, which became the Pershing Rifles after Pershing left Nebraska. While at Nebraska, Pershing pursued and earned a law degree.

Today, Pershing’s legacy of military service lives on not only through the national Pershing Rifles drill unit but also through support efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction.

The University of Nebraska has a strong partnership with the Pentagon to conduct advanced security-related research through NU’s National Strategic Research Institute, which was founded in 2012.

NSRI at the University of Nebraska is the only university-affiliated research center in the country dedicated to delivering solutions for combating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to the U.S. Strategic Command.

NSRI provides research and development for the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other governmental agencies in multiple mission-critical competency areas — including development of medical countermeasures to WMD; nuclear detection and forensics; consequence management; chemical and biological weapons detection; and space, cyber and telecom law.

In 2018 NSRI received a five-year, $92 million contract with the U.S. Air Force to expand research opportunities across the NU system to help meet the needs of the U.S. Strategic Command and the Department of Defense. The contract will allow NSRI to maintain ongoing work, like improving a vaccine for the toxin ricin, advancing the performance of metals used on military vehicles, improving laser technology used to detect explosives and developing new research projects by faculty, researchers and students from across the university.

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