Southern Illinois University Carbondale Receives Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education

CHICAGO, IL – With a tradition of proven support for veterans, military students and their families, Southern Illinois University Carbondale was presented with the Spring 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education, at a ceremony Thursday, September 11 outside the Traveling Vietnam Wall exhibit on the SIU campus.

“We salute Southern Illinois University Carbondale for their consistent and excellent support for their student veterans,” said IDVA Acting Director Rodrigo Garcia. “SIU is the blue-chip standard for supporting student veterans, and that they were the first so honored in 2010 and again four years later is very impressive.   SIU’s programs and policies to assist veterans entering or returning to higher education matches Governor Pat Quinn’s top priorities, and we thank them for their shared commitment to this community of heroes.”

IDVA Chief of Staff Simon Wlodarski presented the award on behalf of Governor Pat Quinn and acting Director Garcia during the ceremony to SIU Interim Chancellor Paul Sarvela.  Faculty, staff, student veterans, and local community leaders attended the event, which is part of a series of events running through Sunday, Sept. 14 that honor veterans and military personnel.

Earning the award for a second time reflects the continuing commitment the university places on serving its student military veterans to ensure they are able to accomplish their educational goals, Sarvela said.

“We are honored to receive this award from Gov. Quinn and Acting Director Garcia,” Sarvela said. “This honor also belongs to the many people here at SIU Carbondale who work hard daily to make sure our student veterans have what they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom. The sacrifices that our veterans and their families make for this nation warrant that kind of commitment.

There are 643 student military veterans on campus this semester, Paul S. Copeland, veterans services coordinator, said.

The university’s programs and initiatives in assisting student military veterans and active duty personnel continually earn recognition as being among the nation’s top military-friendly colleges and universities.

“This award recognizes the value this university places on student success,” Copeland said. “”We have continued and put into place initiatives to provide academic, social, medical and general transition support for veteran students and military families.”

Those programs include utilizing veteran tutors, recognition for graduation and academic excellence, Veterans’ Administration personnel under the “Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership” and chaplains programs, an annual Sept. 11 “Run To Remember” program, and military culture and veteran ally training for faculty and staff.  Work is starting on a peer adviser program for the next generation of students transitioning from military service, Copeland said.

Previous winners include Eastern Illinois University, College of DuPage, Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, and Southwestern Illinois College.  SIU was the first to receive this award, and is the only institution to receive it for a second time.

The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education is presented in the spring and fall of each school year. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2015 term. Illinois colleges or universities that contribute to the betterment of our student veterans and their families are eligible. The nominated school must be a licensed, degree-granting school in the state of Illinois. For more information, please visit the Governor’s Award homepage at www.veterans.illinois.gov.

Governor Quinn has long been a leader for supporting Illinois’ military families. He initiated the Illinois Veterans Grant and Illinois National Guard Grant, which cover tuition at all Illinois public universities and community colleges for eligible veterans and serving National Guard members. He also required colleges to post all benefits available to Illinois veterans and assign a staff member to serve as the point of contact for student-veterans who need information and assistance. In 2012, Governor Quinn and the Departments of Veterans and Military Affairs spearheaded the statewide public-private partnership, Illinois Joining Forces, which has been a model for other states to follow.