The drafting of young men into service during World War II drastically affected campus enrollment. The drop from 535 to just 81 students between 1940 and 1942 led the Arizona Board of Regents to contemplate closing Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff. To save the institution, President Thomas Tormey successfully petitioned to have a V-12 Navy College Training Program placed on campus.
In the fall of 1943, the addition of 400 sailors and marines working on their degrees allowed the college to stay open. Throughout the war, over 1,000 armed services personnel lived and trained on the campus. Most lived in Taylor Hall. Students also aided the war effort by enforcing rationing measures and donating rubber.
Dedicated in 2012, the V-12 Memorial honors those who served in the Armed Forces during WWII, and recognizes the role the program played in keeping the College open. Today, the University is home to celebrated Army and Air Force ROTC programs. Veterans and active duty service personnel continue to attend classes both on campus and online.