NAICU Washington Update

St. Leo President Arthur Kirk Testifies at House Hearing on Veterans Education

September 19, 2013

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, Saint Leo University president Arthur F. Kirk, Jr.stressed that creating a supportive environment and developing individualized roadmaps to graduation are two key approaches critical to serving the needs of the nation’s servicemembers and veterans enrolled in college.

The September 11 hearing focused on the work colleges are doing to help servicemembers and veterans succeed.

“Saint Leo University is proud of its military students and is committed to providing them with outstanding academic programs and personal attention in small classes,” Kirk stated. He went on to observe that these qualities characterize the offerings of private, non-profit colleges in general.

Saint Leo University’s efforts to create a proactive “veteran-supportive environment” include relevant training for faculty, staff, and students. Some 52 veteran certifying officials (VCOs) have received extensive training in identifying and addressing issues that veterans are likely to face in pursuing their education.

Kirk also highlighted the university’s efforts to provide military and veterans students with a “road map to graduation.” University officials determine what credits the student is bringing to college and then develop a clear sequence of courses towards a degree. The individualized plans are updated each term so that the student clearly understands what’s needed to graduate.

“Postsecondary institutions now face the largest influx of student veterans on campus since World War II,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Subcommittee said. “The higher education community has a responsibility to tailor programs and coursework to ensure the needs of this unique student population are met and taxpayer resources are used wisely and efficiently. Fortunately, many schools are rising to the challenge.”

“We believe that social support is also critical and continue to look for new ways for veteran students to connect on campus and at our education centers,” said Kirk. “We recognize the critical role that faculty and staff veterans can play in mentoring veteran students and have encouraged these interactions. The sense of community that these efforts build on campus benefits our entire student body—veterans and non-veterans alike.”

The University awarded 311 associate degrees, 884 bachelors, and 290 graduate degrees to veterans in 2012, more than double the number from two years ago.

Other testimony was presented by Kimrey W. Rhinehardt, vice president for federal and military affairs, The University of North Carolina; Russell S. Kitchner, vice president for regulatory and governmental relations, American Public University System; and Ken Sauer, senior associate commissioner for research and academic affairs, Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

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