THEC names APSU a VETS Campus
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – On Thursday, May 7, Austin Peay State University became one of only four universities in Tennessee to be named a Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Campus by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). The certification is awarded to higher education institutions that not only prioritize outreach to veterans, but also successfully deliver the services necessary to create a supportive environment where student veterans can prosper while pursuing their education.
“Our military traditions are rich and they’re deep,” APSU President Alisa White said. “Our relationships are rich and deep, and we are committed in a very rich and deep way to serving active duty soldiers and veterans and their families, and in fact, that commitment is unwavering.”
Dr. Russ Deaton, interim THEC director, presented the designation to White during a special ceremony Thursday in the APSU Morgan University Center. Several dignitaries from THEC, the Tennessee General Assembly, the Tennessee Board of Regents, the Office of the Governor, the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs and the APSU campus community attended the event.
“Austin Peay is a state and national leader in this area for us,” Deaton said. “They are a leader in the way they partner with the local officials at Fort Campbell, with their community here, with their students and faculty and staff. They’re proactive in the way they find ways to serve veterans, find ways to offer creative ways to bring folks back into civilian life and find ways to bring them the education they need.”
Many-Bears Grinder, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner, said it was an honor to be on a campus that proudly supports veterans. To commemorate her visit, Grinder presented White with her department’s coin to serve as an award of excellence.
“They (APSU) don’t just have a campus on post,” Grinder said. “They serve the families; they serve the active duty soldiers once they get out of the military. By doing this holistic type of support, they better guarantee our very deserving veterans that they will graduate and they will seize those careers they deserve so much.”
Austin Peay, which currently serves more than 1,700 veteran students, is the state’s largest provider of higher education to soldiers, veterans and their families. The University works hard to provide assistance and services to these individuals, and major publications and the federal government have praised APSU’s efforts. Earlier this year, G.I. Jobs magazine named the University to its 2015 Military Friendly Schools list. In August, the federal government applauded APSU for being the only school in Tennessee to implement the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ “8 Keys to Success.” That initiative seeks to help veterans succeed on campus.
During Thursday’s ceremony, White reaffirmed APSU’s commitment to the University’s military-affiliated students. She said that she did not come from a military family or serve in the military, which is why she believes it is now her duty to support these individuals.
“What can I do to serve?” White asked. “I can’t go now, but I can support those of you who went. That is what I can do, and I pledge to do that with a team that started far earlier than when I got here. I just was privileged to join them to serve all of you who serve those who are keeping us safe, and keeping us free and keeping our moral compass going in the right direction. I’m grateful for that.”
Photo cutline: THEC Interim Director Russ Deaton, Rep. Joe Pitts, Rep. Jay Reedy, APSU President Alisa White, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder, Rep. Curtis Johnson (Speaker Pro Tem), THEC Assistant Executive Director for Veterans Education Tom Morrison, THEC General Counsel and Associate Executive Director for Legal and Regulatory Affairs Scott Sloan, and Tennessee Promise/Drive to 55 Executive Director Mike Krause. (Photo by Beth Liggett/APSU)