MEMPHIS — Christian Brothers University (CBU) is one of 13 colleges and universities in Tennessee that will receive additional funding and program support to serve veterans and service members. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) announced today that this program, part of Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative, will also help these veterans and service members earn postsecondary degrees.
CBU will receive a $27,673 Veteran Reconnect Grant to support programs and services for student veterans. In total, THEC will award $760,781 in Veteran Reconnect funds at campuses across the state. The 2017 grant program is specifically focused on improving the assessment of prior learning for student veterans returning to college, helping them more easily convert previous military experience into college credit, and improving the transition between military service and postsecondary education. THEC will provide technical assistance and professional development to Veteran Reconnect campuses around prior learning assessment (PLA) for veterans.
“In Tennessee, there are an estimated 83,000 veterans with some college credit but no degree, and we are committed to making it easier for them to transition into higher education and graduate,” Haslam said. “Veterans bring valuable experience and learning from their time in the service, and through Veteran Reconnect, we are helping them turn that experience into credit, earn postsecondary degrees, and move into quality jobs after serving.”
Institutions receiving the grants are required to develop and implement new evaluation processes for translating military training into academic credit, while also ensuring that prospective and incoming student veterans have easy, clear access to the information. This grant aligns with legislation passed earlier this year by the Tennessee General Assembly which directs THEC to develop an online web platform to assist veterans in translating their military experience to academic credit. The institutions that participate in Veteran Reconnect grant program will be partners in that effort by mapping the opportunities already available to students at their institutions.
“Receiving proper credit for military training was a frustration we heard from veterans, and Veteran Reconnect is one of the ways we are easing that frustration,” said Mike Krause, THEC executive director. “Veterans and service members are often forced to decide on a program of study before they know how their military training will be applied to academic coursework. As a state, we’re working to make this process as transparent as possible so veterans know how their military service will translate before enrolling.”
“I was thrilled to be selected to receive funding from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to further expand our growing veteran’s services,” said Randall Pelham, CBU’s veteran’s certification specialist and primary veteran liaison for the University. “This year’s focus is on previous learning assessment and credit equivalencies for military service. Using the inputs of the departments and military documents, we hope to create a comprehensive guide to maximize the skills and knowledge our veterans have received during their service as they apply towards their degree completions. As a veteran myself, I am excited to see CBU embrace the veteran population and expand the programs that assist them.”
Veteran Reconnect will provide funding from August 1, 2017 until January 31, 2019. The current round of funding marks the third time THEC has awarded Veteran Reconnect grants to institutions. The 2015 grant provided support to 11 campuses to focus on developing enrollment, retention, and graduation of veteran students. The 2016 grant provided funding to six campuses, focused on expanding existing student veteran programs and bringing successful programs to scale.
Veteran Reconnect is part of Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or credential to 55 percent by 2025. The grants were included in Haslam’s FY 2017-18 budget.
Veteran Reconnect Grants have also been awarded to Austin Peay State University ($79,954), Cleveland State Community College ($79,902), East Tennessee State University ($80,000), Jackson State Community College ($44,500), Lipscomb University ($80,000), Middle Tennessee State University ($72,118), Pellissippi State Community College ($70,190), Tennessee College of Applied Technology Shelbyville ($7,500), Tennessee Technological University ($71,355), Tennessee Wesleyan University ($67,838), University of Memphis ($60,734), and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ($19,017).