Lt. Col. Higgs named Director of Military Student Services

Lt. Col. Higgs named Director of Military Student Services

June 5, 2015

Maryville College recently announced the newly-created position of Director of Military Student Services has been filled by Lt. Col. Ted Higgs, an Army retiree.

Higgs will oversee the newly-created Military Student Center, providing leadership and support to military students including veterans and their dependents.

"The Military Student Center is something we will take a good bit of pride in," Higgs said. "I think that, as a liberal arts college in Tennessee, we are doing quite well in supporting veterans. If you look at the College website, one of the first things you will see is a link for veterans' information. To me that's a promising sign. It's an indicator that the program is very robust."

Higgs received his bachelor of arts degree from Austin Peay State University and holds master of arts degrees in English literature, Latin and human relations from the University of Oklahoma. He has also completed advanced graduate studies in human services at Boston University.

He holds diplomas in Italian and Modern Greek from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., as well as a diploma from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Higgs has taught languages and literature at universities in the United States and Italy, including a combined seven years of professorship at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and 10 years in the classics department of the University of Kentucky.

"The [military student services] program has been keyed to smoothing out the admissions process," he said. "We want to help veterans transition from the military to civilian life, especially in pointing them in the right direction after college. Many are very well qualified to enter federal service at a higher rank with regards to seniority and retirement."

Road to establishment

The establishment of a Military Student Center at Maryville College has been in the works since 2013. In December of that year, the College signed a pledge to join the "Got Your 6" campaign to support student veterans.

It also broadened its commitment to the military community this March in organizing the "Creating College Success for Veterans" conference, which drew participants from around the state and featured documentary producer Ed Hooper as a guest speaker along with an advance screening of his latest film.

That same month, faculty and staff volunteered to undergo "Green Zone Training" as part of an initiative to promote a positive and supportive campus environment for veterans. A “Green Zone” is a location recognized by student veterans as a safe place.

According to Vandy Kemp, vice president and dean of students, David Johnson '15 and Sean Hagstrom '16, both Marines, were instrumental in identifying ways the College could better serve student veterans.

"In 2013 our number of veterans began to increase, and they became our newest 'diversity group' on campus. I began to learn more about our veterans: Why did they choose MC? What were the benefits of having them here? What were their particular needs? How could we become more welcoming to veterans, and what were the best practices for doing so? Generally, they taught me what I needed to know," she said.

Kemp added that now is a time when reaching out to veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is crucial for society as a whole.

"Maryville College is uniquely positioned to serve veterans because we are small and nurturing, and because we are philosophically wired to value the experiences they bring as part of a liberal arts approach to learning," she said.

Enriching the campus community

Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart sees this increasing emphasis on providing support to student veterans as pursuant to the College's mission.

He envisions the Military Student Center as becoming "a hub of activity for current students, prospective students and the community" which will "complement the many other programs, activities and centers on campus that together enrich campus life.

"The diversity of experience that veterans and members of military families bring enriches not only the classroom but also the entire community," he said. "Much of the initiative for these developments have come from our students. By listening to them, we have become aware of wonderful opportunities, 3and Maryville College is much improved as a result."

Integrated, growing program

Higgs emphasized the Military Student Center has been conceived of as a place integrated into the campus community.

"I think one of the things the veterans can offer to the College and community is a source of information. Much of what we see on TV -- even in the news -- doesn't necessarily reflect the reality of the military as a whole," he said.

That information could help Maryville College students who aren't veterans identify viable career options in the military, Higgs added. He pointed out that the military "offers a wide range of options for career advancement."

As a teacher, Higgs vouches for veterans as an asset in the classroom.

"They bring a whole wealth of interesting experience into any classroom discussion. It doesn't necessarily have to be about combat," he said.

Of his new position as Director of Military Student Services, Higgs said: "I want to establish links with schools which have similar programs, strengthen our bond with the Veteran's Affairs office and ensure the best possible opportunities for veterans' education and personal development at Maryville College."

By Gerhard Schneibel, News and New Media Writer

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,154.