Maryville College selected for THEC grant for veterans

Maryville College selected for THEC grant for veterans

Aug. 30, 2016

Maryville College soon will receive almost $123,000 from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission's Veteran Reconnect grant program.

The College, which participates in the VA's Yellow Ribbon Program at the highest level, learned last week that it was one of only six campuses approved for funding. Twenty-one institutions submitted grant proposals.

“This is the second Veteran Reconnect grant for Maryville College,” explained Dr. Tom Bogart, Maryville College president. “Last year, we were one of only 11 institutions selected for the program and were approved for more than $80,000 to support institutional infrastructure and programming. This grant will allow us to further improve our services.

“Maryville College benefits from the breadth of experience that veterans bring to campus,” the president continued. “In turn, our rigorous curriculum combined with personalized support is a great fit for those who have already demonstrated ability and dedication, and this match is reflected in our rapidly growing enrollment of veterans.”

Specifically, Maryville College’s most recent Reconnect grant will provide for the hiring of a veteran success coordinator who will develop an individualized success plan for each veteran student to serve as a roadmap to academic progress, degree completion and employment. The coordinator will work out of the College’s Academic Support Center and report to its director, Kim Ochsenbein, but regularly collaborate with Christy McDonald, director of the College’s Career Center, and Lt. Col. (R) Ted Higgs, director of the College’s military student services.

Vandy Kemp, dean of students and grant writer, said she is proud of the College’s recent progress in veteran recruitment.

“Our military service members contribute so much to American life. It’s the responsibility of institutions like Maryville College to welcome them into campus life and equip them for whatever lies ahead, beyond their military service,” she said. “Our project will provide staff and services to support veterans’ transition to higher education and later into the career of their choice.”

According to a release distributed by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), other campuses that received Reconnect grant funding included Chattanooga State Community College, Lipscomb University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tusculum College and the University of Tennessee at Martin.

With grants totaling almost $1 million over a 22-month period, this most recent round of Veteran Reconnect funding aims to build on proven practices to support veterans on campuses. Programs funded will increase campus services for student veterans and provide veteran-specific resources, such as the expansion of campus veteran centers or professional development for faculty and staff on the specific needs of students with military experience.

“Every student enrolled in college has a unique set of needs and that is especially true for veteran students,” said THEC Executive Director Mike Krause. “Veteran Reconnect is assisting veterans on Tennessee campuses to both connect with their campus and with their fellow servicemen.”

College also named VETS Campus

News of the Veteran Reconnect grant followed another THEC announcement earlier this month, with Maryville College learning of its designation as a THEC VETS Campus. One of only 15 institutions of higher education to receive this designation, Maryville College is also the only private institution included.

The VETS Campus designation is part of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act of 2014. Campuses that meet the requirements must prioritize outreach to veterans and create an environment in which veteran students have the resources to thrive. Specific requirements include annual surveys of veteran students, targeted orientation programs and mentoring and support services developed specifically for students who are veterans.

Military-friendly school

President Bogart called the grant funding and THEC designations “further evidence that Maryville College is truly a military-friendly school.”

Since 2013, when the Maryville College Student Veterans Association (MCSVA) formed, the College has seen a growing student veteran population. Initiatives and recognitions have included joining the Education Pillar of the “Got Your 6” campaign, the U.S. Department of Education’s “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success” initiative, and implementation of “Green Zone Training” for faculty and staff.

In 2015, Maryville College welcomed Higgs, an Army retiree, as director of military student services, opened the College’s Military Student Center in Bartlett Hall and began offering courses at the McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base. Last fall, Pittsburgh-based Victory Media named Maryville College to its 2016 list of military-friendly schools.

Veterans and their dependents are encouraged to contact Darren Dunlap, assistant director of admissions, at 865.981.8089 or to learn more and schedule a campus visit.

Written by Karen Beaty Eldridge '94, Executive Director for Marketing & Communications

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.