The first College Republican chapter was founded as the American Republican College League on May 17, 1892 at the University of Michigan. The organization was spear-headed by law student James Francis Burke, who would later be elected from the state of Pennsylvania to the United States House of Representatives. The first nationwide meeting of College Republicans brought out more than 1,000 attendees where then- Ohio Governor and future President William McKinley gave a rousing keynote speech encouraging youth participation in the Republican Party.
McKinley was not the only future United States President with ties to the College Republicans. In 1923, former College Republican Calvin Coolidge ascended to the Presidency following the death of President Warren Harding.
By 1924, the organization was operating directly under the Republican National Committee as the Associated University Republican Clubs. In 1931, College Republicans caught the attention of President Herbert Hoover’s re-election campaign, who recruited members for youth outreach, in what was essentially the first GOP presidential student coalition.
For the next several years the organization operated alternately under the auspices of the “Republican National League,” “Young Republican National Committee,” and the “Division of Young Republican Activities.” In 1935, the College Republicans were merged into the newly created Young Republican National Federation, encompassing both college students and young professionals. College Republican operations continued under the Young Republicans until the 1965 founding of the College Republican National Committee (CRNC).
Over the following decades some of the most influential republican leaders of today held leadership positions within the College Republican National Committee. Future conservative leaders who started their political careers in College Republicans include: Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, Rick Davis, Charlie Black, Roger Stone, Grover Norquist, Morton Blackwell and Ralph Reed among many others. Under their leadership the CRNC grew to be one of the nations leading grassroots organizations.
Where We Are Today
In 2001, the CRNC filed as an Independent 527 Political Action Committee, which it remains today. The CRNC is made up of 50 State Federations and the District of Columbia with more than 1,800 College Republican chapters and over 250,000 members.
The CRNC has a nationally elected chairman and officers who lead the organization, as well as support staff operating out of the national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Each state maintains its own federation with a state chairman and a leadership committee who work directly with the National Committee.
As the nationally elected voice for young conservatives across the country, the CRNC drives and defines the debate for College Republicans and bring youth-oriented issues to the forefront of the political discourse.
On campus, the CRNC recruits, trains, mobilizes, and engages college-aged students in all 50 states and Washington D.C. to win elections and advocate for conservative ideals. Every year, College Republicans from all across America join together to help elect Republican candidates, support the Republican agenda, and become the future leaders of the conservative movement. Our efforts—whether disseminating campaign literature, canvassing neighborhoods, placing lawn signs, or calling voters—make the difference in Republican victories and drive our party forward. For many students, campus activism is their gateway into the Republican Party. Our goal is to build and foster lifelong allegiance with the party and the conservative movement for college students.
Today, the CRNC is on the move. We are the “unions of the right” and the fastest growing sector of Republican Party activists. For over 125 years, we have fought hard for Republican candidates. You are a part of that tradition. With your help, the next 125 years will be even better.