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How increased ed can have interaction veterans — from a college president who’s a veteran

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Schools have lengthy recruited army veterans as college students, incentivized partially by the unique 1944 GI Invoice and its successors to fund increased schooling for members of the armed companies. However a singular deal with getting veterans enrolled can depart them on their very own as soon as they’ve entered the classroom.

Having college students and employees with army expertise is effective as greater than a monetary boon to campuses, and faculties must rethink the way to have interaction with them, in keeping with Seth Bodnar, president of the College of Montana. Bodnar is an Military veteran and stays a member of the Nationwide Guard. Earlier than becoming a member of the College of Montana, he was a senior govt at Common Electrical and taught economics on the U.S. Navy Academy at West Level, his alma mater.

Bodnar shared his ideas on how his Military background influences his management fashion, how faculties can recruit veterans as college students and workers, and the advantages of participating with scholar protests.

This interview has been edited for readability and brevity.

HIGHER ED DIVE: How did the talents you gained throughout your army service switch to main a big college?

Headshot of Seth Bodnar

Seth Bodnar, president of the College of Montana

Permission granted by Teresa Valerio Parrot on behalf of the College of Montana


SETH BODNAR: You be taught fairly shortly within the army that your job is to not know all the things or have each reply at each second. Your job is to offer management and course in your platoon and to attract upon the data and experience of the individuals in that group to assist or not it’s the simplest it could.

That applies to a college, the army, a enterprise — wherever. And so I feel these abilities are completely transferable.

How does the College of Montana work to assist veterans who enroll?

Traditionally, the college has been an excellent one for veterans. What we have accomplished over my time right here is established that we do not wish to simply be a spot that helps veterans whereas they’re right here. We wish to be a spot that draws veterans and army households. We’re approaching each as a result of anyone who has been within the army is aware of that each member of that household is serving. 

We launched an workplace of army and veteran companies and always ask ourselves the way to construct companies that lead us to be essentially the most military-friendly college within the nation. That is the purpose we’re aiming towards, and we’re steadily making progress towards it. 

Additionally, we be sure that the narrative about veterans is not only seeing them as a inhabitants that wants our assist or the gratitude of a grateful nation. We see veterans as a strategic nationwide useful resource. It is a group of people who must be supported to proceed their mission of serving this nation.

What do school leaders must learn about participating with veterans as college students?

First, veterans and army households are coming with an current set of abilities and an perspective that already is oriented in direction of service. It is not a needy inhabitants, however one which needs to be handled with a measure of respect in recognition of that have. You realize, I can not deal with a army veteran who maybe had 5 or 6 years of service the identical means I’d deal with an 18-year-old popping out of highschool. 

Second, just remember to’re intentional in creating a way of group for veterans on a campus. It is best to have a spot the place they’ll collect but in addition methods for veterans to interact with the broader campus inhabitants by means of service actions. They’re nice position fashions and mentors for different college students. Recognizing that veterans are mission targeted and offering methods for them to proceed their mission of service in your campus will assist them really feel engaged and a part of that group.

The third piece is constructing applications to assist veterans navigate that transition from army to civilian profession. You desire a course of to assist veterans design their subsequent steps and translate what they already know into the civilian world. Making that leap from the army is difficult, particularly the longer you served. 

I used to be an infantry officer, after which I used to be a Inexperienced Beret. I had a variety of abilities. However not a variety of these had been simply simply translatable with out some intentional considering and a few exploration.

Veterans have all the time been a well-liked demographic for school advertising. Has the upper ed sector accomplished a superb job delivering as soon as they enroll?

There’s undoubtedly a chance for all universities to do a greater job of specializing in the issues that matter to a veteran.

We have seen very intentional advertising efforts which have focused veterans and focused GI Invoice advantages in some irresponsible methods. Happily, we have seen the suitable reining in of a few of these practices. Our college is attempting to deal with serving army veterans, however serving them in a means that advantages them, not in a means that I feel a few of the for-profits on the market have accomplished over the previous decade or so.



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