By Gary Ginsburg
Syracuse University has supported America’s veterans for more than 100 years. It started with military training conducted on campus for 1,000 men in 1918 during World War I. During the 1940s, Syracuse University President and Chancellor William Tolley provided critical input to create the original GI Bill legislation, which provided enormous educational opportunities for returning veterans following World War II. More recently, during his inaugural address to the university community in 2014, the current university president and chancellor Kent Syverud stated, “I believe Syracuse University must once again become the best place for Veterans. We have the capacity; we have the opportunity to be the best in the world at providing opportunity and empowerment to the veterans of our armed forces and their families.”
In 2020, the “Military Times” ranked Syracuse University number one among privately endowed universities in the country for its support of veterans and fifth among all institutions of higher education including public or state sponsored colleges. One of the reasons Syracuse University is known as a veteran-friendly or veteran-centric school is the National Veterans Resource Center which opened several months ago. The ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for April 2020 will now take place in May of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Syracuse University has about 1,100 military-connected students out of a total student population of 21,000. These students fall into five groups, including active-duty military personnel, U.S. Army OTC and Air Force ROTC, reserve component personnel service in the U.S. armed forces, veterans from all branches of the military, and immediate family members of the other groups.
Dan Bateman, an operations officer at the University’s Office of Veterans and Military Affairs said, “the military-connected students and veterans are granted priority for early class or course registration ahead of most students and following only the scholarship athletes on campus.”
On November 30, I took a special tour of the brand-new building known as the National Veterans Resource Center on the Syracuse University campus. The building is not yet open to the public due to COVID-19. While the university donated the land, the cost of the $60 million, 115,000 square-foot building came from private sector donations. There is a parade field for Army and Air Force ROTC cadet drill and ceremony (military marching) preparation as well as other possible outdoor activities. There are also classrooms, a large auditorium, and a multimedia center within the NVRC. The main tenants of the building are the Institute of Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, U.S. Army ROTC, U.S. Air Force ROTC, the university and regional student Veterans Resource Center, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran Success on Campus program, Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship, and a Veterans Business Outreach Center and Accelerator.
There are many programs using the NVRC as a hub and laser-focused in support of the 1,100 military connected students including, a business bootcamp for veterans with disabilities, female veterans and entrepreneurship, veteran career transition, skills training, and economic development engagement targeting advanced manufacturing skills with companies such as General Electric, Alcoa, Lockheed Martin and community colleges.
Ronald Novak, the executive director of the Syracuse University Office of Veteran and Military Affairs and a retired colonel U.S. Army said, “the new building and the programs here will help ensure this school continues to be the best place for veterans and family members today and for the next 100 years into the future.”
Volume 74. Number 4. 2020