UM-Flint Chancellor Ruth J. Person recently (May 17) accepted an invitation to testify before the Michigan House of Representatives' Military and Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee about veteran's initiatives at the university.
The invitation was issued by the chair of the committee following UM-Flint's national recognition by the Pat Tillman Foundation for supporting student veterans. The committee is looking at ways the state can provide more assistance to returning student veterans.
Chancellor Person outlined for the committee UM-Flint's commitment over the past few years.
"When I arrived in 2008, I made this a signature priority for the campus," Person told the committee. "By 2009, we had a program in place, complete with a faculty advisor, and a new Student Veterans Resource Center."
Person explained that the university's philosophy is one of respect, appreciation, inclusiveness, and recognition that veterans have concerns and experiences that differ from those of typical college students. These combined efforts have resulted in helping over 100 student veterans pursue degrees by providing a support system that is specifically tailored to meet their unique needs.
According to the chancellor, since August 2009, UM-Flint has averaged about 40 online veteran inquiries per semester, and the recruitment coordinator responds within a 24-hour period.
It was also noted that UM-Flint was one of five new universities named by the Pat Tillman Foundation for the 2011-2012 academic year. UM-Flint is the only university in Michigan to receive the designation. There are only 12 total Tillman Scholar campuses in the country.
Other programs include:
• Creation of a new orientation session, designed specifically for veteran students
• Development of a staff recruiter position in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions
• The creation of a student veteran lounge
• Development and launch of the website www.umflint.edu/studentveterans
• Increased support for veterans who have taken college-level coursework previously at UM-Flint or elsewhere
Iraq veteran and UM-Flint graduate Cameron Waites, who helped found the first-ever Student Veterans of America-Flint (SVA) Chapter, joined Person and also spoke to the lawmakers.
"I believe that the UM-Flint model could serve as a blueprint for other university and college campuses, not only in Michigan, but across the United States," Waites said in an interview with the Flint Journal.