The following are Chancellor Richard Wells’ remarks shared at the dedication of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Veterans Resource Center on Nov. 7, 2011:
We are honored today by the presence of Secretary John Scocos from the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs for the dedication of our new Veterans Resource Center.
Last year, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh was recognized as “Best for Vets” by Military Times EDGE magazine. Our campus ranked first in the state and 36th in the nation for the commitment it makes to veterans through programs, policies and resources.
We took that award as an opportunity to do even more – to build more capacity to serve our veterans. An example of this is that rather than having a traditional Veterans Day program, we will have an entire week of programs in our Veterans Week celebration. The dedication of this new facility is a featured part of our renewed commitment to support our vets.
We were evaluated using four criteria in the last ranking: financial assistance, academic flexibility, campus culture and support services. We received three out of five stars for financial assistance, four and a half stars for academic flexibility, three stars for campus culture and four stars for the last category, support services. While we have made progress in all areas of importance, through today’s program and the dedication of this facility we are trying to earn the fifth star for our support service commitment.
Let’s look at where we’ve been, and where we are.
- In Fall 2006, we had a total of 265 veterans (including spouses and dependents receiving benefits). This fall that total has more than doubled, to 542 veterans. These numbers are steadily increasing every year.
Due to our increasing population of veterans and their families we have opened the Veterans Resource Center which offers:
- A one-stop shop for veterans – housing both the Veterans Benefits Counselor and Veterans Resource Coordinator.
- A study lounge for veterans, with a computer lab and printer and a library of reading and support materials for veterans.
- A location for external service providers such as the VA Hospital, counseling service and other veteran service organizations to hold hours on campus.
- Suitable space for internal offices, such as advising, counseling, career services, etc. to also deliver service and have regular service hours.
- Peer mentoring program will be started this spring – Vets mentoring Vets on how they succeeded, tips, etc.
- Veteran’s Club will host meetings in the Center.
- Hotline for vets (any question we want them to come to us first and we will help them find the answer).
For 140 years, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has opened its doors to provide high quality educational opportunity for residents of the Oshkosh area. Today, we are proud to be Wisconsin’s third-largest and second-fastest growing institution of higher education. We serve proudly the people and the communities of northeastern Wisconsin and the entire state and nation. We are particularly proud of the veterans who view UW Oshkosh as their academic home. We are pleased to do what we can to help return the debt of gratitude we all owe to those who have selflessly served in our national service.
As we celebrate Veterans Week 2011 at UW Oshkosh, we are proud to be joined by Secretary Scocos and other representatives and leaders from the veterans community.
As we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day on Friday, let us all recommit ourselves to thanking the women and men who have served in the armed forces.