May 15, 2014

SVSU earns new distinctions for commitment to military students

Saginaw Valley State University recently met the criteria for two key initiatives leaders say will help the university’s recruitment, retention and support of military veterans looking for a college education.

SVSU now is recognized as meeting the requirements for the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Veterans Affairs’ “8 Keys To Veterans’ Success” initiative, which designates institutions providing outstanding services to active and reserve service members, veterans and their dependents.

Additionally, SVSU has become a “Yellow Ribbon” school - a Veterans Affairs program that guarantees eligible veterans’ tuition will not exceed the cost of the highest tuition at a public institution of higher learning in Michigan.

Denise Berry, SVSU's director of Military Student Affairs and special assistant to the vice president of Student Affairs, said veterans shopping for higher education institutions are now often including both initiatives on a list of must-have items.

“Participation in these national initiatives helps get the word out that SVSU is committed to supporting veterans and their families,” Berry said. “We want them to know if they come here we're going to take care of them.”

Formal inclusion in the “8 Keys to Veterans' Success” on the Department of Education’s website means that SVSU has become just the 6th college or university in Michigan to join a select group of educational institutions fulfilling the standards initially outlined by President Obama. Those standards are as follows:
1.    Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.

2.    Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.

3.    Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.

4.    Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space for them (even if limited in size).

5.    Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.

6.    Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention, and degree completion.

7.    Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.

8.    Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.

Military members and veterans seeking more information about SVSU's programs and services specific to them can contact Berry in the Military Student Affairs office at (989) 964-2462.