The College of William and Mary has been designated a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs, according to an announcement made by the magazine today.
The magazine, which is targeted to personnel who are transitioning into civilian life, included the College in its 2012 Military Friendly Schools list. The ranking includes the “top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members and veterans as students.”
The magazine analyzed data from a survey of 8,000 schools nationwide to create the list of 1,518 colleges, universities and trade schools. They also conducted a survey of student veterans. Feedback from that survey may be viewed online.
According to the magazine, schools were selected for offering scholarships, military credit, clubs and other services and opportunities to service members and veterans.
The list will be included in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools, which will be distributed to active and former service members in October. The list is also available online at http://www.militaryfriendlyschools.com.
Support, groups and programs
William & Mary’s inclusion on the list is no surprise to those who work closely with veterans on campus, continually seeking new ways to offer them support and services.
All of the College’s graduate schools and the office of undergraduate admission are now offering application fee waivers to veterans. Some of the schools are even extending that waiver to those who have completed other forms of service, such as Teach for America, too.
Henry Broaddus, associate provost for enrollment and dean of undergraduate admission, said the waivers are the result of trying to find a way to “send a stronger signal that William & Mary is a welcoming place for veterans.”
“This was not a mandate from above,” Broaddus said. “We reached 100 percent participation across all of the university’s admission offices through a process of consensus, and that amplifies the message any of us would be sending if we were doing this in isolation.”
But the support for veterans does not stop after the admission process.
William & Mary is a participant in the Yellow Ribbon program, which helps student veterans fund tuition expenses greater than what is covered by Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. The College currently sponsors up to five students – both undergraduates and graduates -- at up to $1,000 per semester, an amount matched by the VA.
The School of Education’s New Horizons Family Counseling Center offers free, confidential counseling to William & Mary student veterans and their families. This fall, the center also plans to begin group counseling for veterans and their families through a collaboration with the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, which offers clinical services and raises awareness and support for injured service members. Victoria Foster, professor of education, manages that program and accepts referrals by phone or e-mail at 757-221-2363, 757-784-6867 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The William & Mary Law School opened the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic in 2009. Since that time, it has served more than 300 veterans and their families, helping them apply for benefits or offering them referrals to additional resources. The clinic partners with the Center for Psychological Services and Development at Virginia Commonwealth University to help veterans with mental health issues receive diagnoses and treatment related to their military service and referrals to other resources for help. The clinic also offers education and outreach to military organizations, veterans and their families in the community, and even homeless shelters, and provides training in the claims process to attorneys seeking to assist on a pro bono basis. Currently, the clinic is working toward starting a consortium called Helping Military Veterans through Higher Education (HMVHE) so other schools and organizations can get involved, an initiative that recently received a $100,000 start-up grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. William & Mary’s Mason School of Business if one of the higher education institutions that has offered to partner in the consortium, to provide financial counseling to veterans.
The business school also recently began a new pilot MBA program in partnership with the U.S. Army. The Major General James Wright MBA Fellowship, which started this summer with 20 students, offers a chance for students on active duty to take classes in Miller Hall, with the curriculum focusing on topics such as the federal government’s budgeting process, Six Sigma business management strategy and supply chain management. The Mason School also offers a military MBA club for students. For more information on the fellowship, send an e-mail to WrightFellowship@mason.wm.edu or call 757-221-2944.
In 2007, a group of students began the Veterans Society of William & Mary. Since that time, the group has conducted service work in the Williamsburg area, provided informational and social gatherings and offered support and guidance to veterans on campus.
The exact number of student veterans currently on campus is unknown. However, in fall 2010, 202 students at William & Mary (both undergraduate and graduate) were receiving VA benefits, either because of their own service or a parent’s service. Of those, 128 were identified as dependents, 74 were identified as veterans, and, of those 74, 10 were listed as active duty. In spring 2011, 224 students were receiving VA benefits. Of those, 90 were listed as veterans including 19 students on active duty, and 134 were listed as dependents.
For students who are considering military service, the College offers a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, which prepares students to become commissioned as U.S. Army officers -- active duty, reserve, and/or National Guard -- upon graduation. In 2008, William & Mary also became the first university in the United States to have a detachment of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Though it is not a commissioning program, the detachment does seek to prepare students to serve as officers in the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary.
An important part of the community
Broaddus said that though veterans still make up a small percentage of the total campus population, they are an important part of the community.
"Broad-based diversity, inclusive of racial, cultural and experiential differences, improves a student body. Having veterans here enriches the campus community enormously and adds to the classroom specifically," he said.
Broaddus recalled a conversation he had with a member of the faculty who told him about a class in which the morality of killing was discussed.
“If you have someone who has been in a battle situation in that room with a bunch of 17-year-olds, the conversation is just going to be very different,” he said. “Different kinds of life experiences are important pedagogically.”
Veterans and other non-traditionally aged students also bring a mature perspective to the campus, Broaddus said.“These are students who have had more time to be reflective about what they want from higher education,” he said. “High school seniors can fall into a bit of a trap where college is just what you do after you graduate. Veterans often come here knowing what they want out of this experience and taking immediate advantage of their opportunities.”