When Tony Frank began his nearly 11-year tenure as president of Colorado State University in 2008, one of his goals was to make was to make the campus among the most veteran-friendly in the country.
CSU has been one of the top-ranked schools in the annual “Best for Vets” listings in Military Times for the past several years, coming in at No. 6 nationally in the latest rankings. CSU’s user-friendly approach to veterans, which includes access to significant scholarship assistance, counseling, tutoring and other services, has made Fort Collins a destination for former and current members of the military.
And CSU’s commitment – and that of Frank – to veterans has not gone unnoticed. Last weekend, student-veterans from CSU accepted on Frank’s behalf the William Pearson Tolley Champion for Veterans in Higher Education Award at the annual gathering of the Student Veterans of America in Orlando, Fla.
“This award may have my name of it, but let’s be clear; recognition for our advocacy and support for helping student veterans succeed is a team effort at CSU,” Frank said. “From peer mentors who support their fellow students, to benefits officers who process the GI Bill payments, to deans and faculty members who create educational opportunities, we have an outstanding team and culture that welcomes, values, and honors the members of our military as they journey through higher education to new careers. I am humbled by the recognition and share it with our entire CSU community who serve those who have served us.”
The Tolley Award is presented to a campus leader “for their long-standing commitment to significantly improve higher education for student-veterans. This leader has created a significant and enduring impact for student-veterans through advocacy, public policy, service and research. They recognize student-veterans are assets to their campus, community and country. This is reflected in the campus environment and culture that their leadership has cultivated. They know a commitment to student-veterans is an investment in helping yesterday’s warriors become today’s scholars, and tomorrow’s leaders.”
Marc Barker, director of CSU’s Adult Learner and Veteran Services program, said Frank, who is stepping down as president June 30 but will remain as chancellor of the CSU System, was a natural choice for the award.
“During my 20-plus years as an administrator in higher education working primarily with student-veterans and military-connected students I have had the good fortune of working with colleges and universities around the country, and I will tell you that Dr. Frank’s commitment to this population at CSU makes me the envy of every one of my peers,” Barker said. “He truly cares about student-veterans and is committed to making CSU the best possible destination in the country for all student-veterans.”
Frank was unable to attend the ceremony but Josh Johnson, president of CSU’s student-veteran organization, and ASCSU President Tristan Syron accepted the Tolley Award on his behalf. In all, 18 CSU student-veterans attended the event.
In addition to Frank’s award, Maggie Walsh, CSU’s director of veterans initiatives, was nominated for chapter advisor of the year.