UR was named one of 2014’s top military-friendly universities in the Military Education Guide.
Commanding Officer of UR’s NROTC unit, Captain Jeffrey Bartkoski, outlined some programs in place that may have led to this recognition.
One Team, One Fight (1T1F) is an organization that joins various institutions in the Rochester area in their efforts to support veterans. Provided support includes job services, counseling, and medical services.
Another distinguishing feature unique to UR is the Rochester Pledge, an agreement the University made in conjunction with the Yellow Ribbon program to pay the full tuition of any veteran who qualifies for the scholarship.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid and Vice-Provost for Enrollment Jonathan Burdick said he got the idea when Congress was debating about implementing the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008,” introduced by Virginia Senator and veteran Jim Webb.
“I was sort of pushing at the veterans department […] I was saying, ‘We want to do this, we’re on board.’” He continued by saying that we were one of the first Universities, because of this initiative, to take advantage of this new legislation.
Burdick’s own family has a history of veterans, with his father taking advantage of the original GI bill post-WWII.
“I know what a difference that made,” Burdick said.
Bartkoski also mentioned UR’s long history of veteran support as a possible contributor to our acknowledgement. UR has hosted its NROTC unit since 1945, and former Eastman Dean, Vice President and General Secretary and Senior Advisor to President Seligman, and professor of History of Jazz Paul Burgett played for the army band. The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a UR graduate from the class of 1876.
Veteran and Simon School of Business student Matthew Legere discussed the value of having veteran support on college campuses.
“Veterans bring a totally different mentality to a classroom,” Legere said. He and Burdick both expressed the idea that veteran students bring a unique diversity to a classroom environment because of their real-world experience.
“The best peer-learning environment is one in which students bring in different perspectives,” said Burdick.
Legere explained that one student may present a perspective on the Cuban Missile Crisis, but a veteran may have experienced a similar situation and thus would be able to apply real-world experience to an issue that is normally only part of an “academic setting.”
Legere was instrumental in forming the Veterans Alliance, a new veterans’ affinity group, which was launched at UR this past Veterans Day.
Its mission statement is “to provide military veteran students, staff, faculty, and alumni and their families with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education.”
Legere said that when he brought the idea to the faculty’s attention, he received an enthusiastic response.
As an undergraduate at RIT coming out of the military, he described himself as feeling isolated
“I felt very disconnected there […] Here I was at 26 or 27 in class with 19 year olds […] There was no sense of community for me.”
Legere identified the importance of veteran support on campus and for creating a community and supporting veterans who may learn differently or have PTSD.
“It’s all about building that community and collaborating with each other,” he said.
So what sets Rochester apart from the other schools listed in the Military Education Guide?
According to Burdick, Bunker Hill Community College published an article in Inside Higher Education titled “Veterans Day 2011,” that praised UR for its dedication to veterans services in contrast to other prestigious institutions.
“As a good-faith gesture, I’ll note the few commendable acts,” wrote Wick Sloane. “First is Jon Burdick, University of Rochester Dean of Admissions, who said, ‘Each veteran adds much more to a classroom, lab or hallway discussion than another student straight from high school could, no matter how bright. I haven’t understood the colleges that aren’t doing everything in their power to reach and enroll more veterans, especially considering the Yellow Ribbon opportunity.’”
“I don’t think we’re doing everything even that we’re supposed to […],” Burdick said regarding UR’s efforts, “but we have picked up our game lately.”
McAdams is a member of the class of 2017.