A concerted effort under the direction of Mark Gill, President Tony Frank’s chief of staff and a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, to improve overall service to U.S. military veterans has propelled Colorado State University into the upper echelon of military-friendly colleges and universities.
Military Times, which has been published since 1940 and is considered among the top sources of independent news about the U.S. military, ranks CSU 13th nationally among four-year universities on its annual “Best for Vets” list, which ranks the top 125 schools for overall services provided to veterans. CSU, the highest-ranked Colorado school, did not make the Military Times list of 86 schools in 2014.
Money magazine included CSU in its “25 Great Colleges for Vets” story released Wednesday. CSU is listed eighth among four-year schools, and is the only Colorado school to make the list.
Money cited CSU’s quality of education, affordability and the earnings value of a degree.
“CSU has a long history of being a military-friendly university but we haven’t always had a strong effort to get all of our services under one umbrella,” said Gill, a retired Air Force colonel. “We discovered we had a lot of really good programs for veterans that weren’t coordinated.”
Gill brought together Robin Brown, CSU’s vice president of enrollment and access, and Blanche Hughes, vice president of student affairs, to consolidate efforts already in place.
The Adult Learner and Veteran Services, Veteran Educational Benefits Office, New Start for Student Veterans Program in the College of Health and Human Sciences and many other support programs on campus also participated, helping create a more user-friendly process for veterans to apply and gain acceptance to CSU, and help them succeed once they arrive on campus.
More veterans = a better university
Josh Hayes, a former Marine who serves as president of CSU’s Student Veteran Organization, said the university goes the extra mile to make veterans succeed.
“The big thing for me is the openness and willingness of our administration to create programs specifically geared toward student-veteran success,” said Hayes, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences. “It goes well beyond helping people understand the G.I. Bill and helping them get into school. The leadership here is truly invested in the success of veterans.”
CSU has about 1,550 veterans and GI Benefit users currently enrolled, and Gill said the goal is to add even more in the future.
“We’re a better university when we have veterans, and our classrooms are better for all students when they include veterans because they bring talent and experience to our campus,” Gill said. “We want this to be the school of choice for all veterans.”