The University of Arizona is one of the best institutions to consider pursuing a higher education degree, according to U.S. News & World Report's inaugural list of the Best Colleges for Veterans.
The UA is ranked 23rd on the list, which includes 234 U.S. schools.
The publication noted that the new ranking is meant to "provide military veterans with data on which top-ranked schools offer benefits to veterans and active service members that can help them pursue a college education." Top-ranked institutions had to meet set criteria, such as being a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, being certified for the GI Bill, and being a participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
"It is an honor to be recognized by U.S. News & World Report," said military veteran Cody Nicholls, the UA's assistant dean of students for Veterans Education and Transition Services.
Since 2000, the number of veterans enrolling at the UA has increased 56 percent, from 194 in2000to303in2012.
"We've had a long-standing, very close relationship between the UA and student veterans on campus," said Shay Stautz, the UA's associate vice president for Federal Relations. "The UA certainly understands the broader societal commitment to our returning veterans who have served their country. These individuals are an important part of our community."
The UA offers a range of programs and services geared toward student veterans. They include:
- GI Bill counseling, priority registration and a series of for-credit transitions courses, called "Supportive Education for Returning Veterans" (SERV), offered by the the UA Department of Agricultural Education through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- The V.E.T.S. Office and the Student VETS Center
- Pat Tillman Foundation partner campus
- Adaptive athletic sports teams
- UA chapter of the Student Veterans of America
- Support for applying for Pat Tillman Foundation scholarships
"Other universities have one or two elements of the support infrastructure we have on campus," Stautz said. "Very few of them, to my understanding, have all of these elements."
In addition, the UA has just opened a new student center at the Arizona Health Sciences Center for military veterans and their allies. The center, which is located in the Arizona Health Sciences Library, offers meeting and study spaces and is staffed by student veteran work-study recipients.
"It's the most central area there and can bring in people from pharmacy, nursing, public health and medicine," Nicholls said, emphasizing the importance of providing a space specifically for those in graduate and professional programs. "It's a great location and it is easy to get to."
This spring, the one-credit "Transitional Resiliency" course will be offered, providing a condensed version of the three-credit SERV courses. Each of these courses is designed to help student veterans have an easier tradition into higher education, aiding them in their academic success and in building resiliency. The courses also include workforce development training.
"What we really pride ourselves on is what we do above and beyond for our student veterans, especially in what the rankings recognize in terms of meeting the needs of our students," Nicholls said.
The UA Veterans Education and Transition Services