Affinity Group, Resource Guide Provide Additional Support for Student Vets
Starting this month, veterans and active members of the military at the University of Rochester will have expanded resources and support services, thanks to the Veterans Alliance, a new affinity group on campus. The University will introduce the new program during a luncheon celebrating Rochester's veterans at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 12, in the Eisenberg Rotunda at the Simon Business School.
The new services, geared toward enhancing student life on campus, augment the financial resources veterans receive through the Rochester Pledge Scholarship. Created in 2009 to provide full-tuition scholarships to qualified, post-9/11 veterans, Rochester Pledge has helped ease the financial burden for veterans wishing to attend the College of Arts and Sciences, Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences undergraduate programs, Eastman School of Music, and Simon Business School. Since the scholarship's inception, the number of veterans enrolled at Rochester has increased slowly, yet steadily.
"We've directed maximum outreach and funding toward every potential veteran for six years, and we're starting to see the 'critical mass' on campus that inspires positive changes and new attention from all corners," said Jon Burdick, vice-provost for enrollment initiatives and dean of admissions and financial aid, whose staff worked with members of the College administration to increase the support services for students.
Among the 32 veterans currently studying on campus is Matt Legere, who attends the Simon Business School part-time. After his first year, Legere saw the need for an organization where student veterans could share in the challenges of returning to school after a military career. Legere approached Simon administrators, who convened a working group of personnel across campus who also were already exploring ways to address the need for specialized programs and resources for vets. After five months of planning, Legere's vision materialized in the form of a University affinity group, the Veteran's Alliance, which will provide networking opportunities and mentoring and support for veteran and active military members from across campus and at all academic levels.
"It's exciting to see the University come together to address the needs of our veteran and military students," said Carin Conlon, assistant dean of executive and professional programs at Simon, who is a core member of the workgroup. "The working group immediately acted on Matt's observations, and we now have a series of initiatives occurring school-wide."
A new Veterans Resources guide also will provide vets a single place to look for information on the many offices and departments they may interact with throughout their academic careers. It's a tool vets said would be useful when they have questions about financial aid or academic advising.
In December, the College Center for Advising Services will host a workshop designed to assist faculty and staff in recognizing the unique challenges current and former members of the military face while completing college coursework. Led by Eric Wheeler, coordinator for the Academy of Veterans' Success at Monroe Community College, the workshop will provide an overview of military culture, available educational benefits, and common transition issues. Wheeler also will share effective methods for assisting this population of students.
This fall, the University was included in Military Advanced Education's listing of "2014 Guide to Military Friendly Colleges and Universities," for its efforts in ensuring veterans face minimal barriers in attaining higher education.